Aboriginal prisoner, 22, begged guards to leave his jail cell minutes before he was found hanging, inquest hears
- Tane Chatfield, 22, died in September 2017 after he was found hanging in jail
- The prisoner pleaded with guards to leave him alone moments before tragedy
- Chatfield died in Tamworth Base Hospital two days after he was discovered
A young Indigenous man pleaded with guards to let him leave his cell minutes before he was found hanging, a NSW inquest has heard.
Tane Chatfield, 22, died in hospital on September 22, 2017 two days after he was discovered hanging in his cell at Tamworth Correctional Centre.
The Kamilaroi Gumbaynggirr Wakka Wakka man had been taken to Tamworth Base Hospital the day before after suffering multiple seizures.
Tane Chatfield, 22, died in hospital on September 22, 2017 two days after he was discovered hanging in his cell at Tamworth Correctional Centre
When he returned to jail about 8am on September 20, Mr Chatfield was kept isolated in a one-man cell.
The young father, who had been held on remand for two years, was then left to wait there as his fellow inmates were allowed to leave about 8.15am.
At the time, prison security manager Stephen McPherson informed Mr Chatfield he would have to stay put until the arrival of hospital discharge paperwork.
‘He was upset with the decision,’ Assistant Superintendent McPherson told the inquest on Wednesday.
‘He tried on multiple occasions to change my mind.
‘When I opened the door, he had a towel and a bag containing toiletries.
‘The only words I remember him saying were ‘I want to shower’. He was probably shouting.’
It was the last time someone would speak to Mr Chatfield.
Less than an hour later about 9.05am, fellow inmate Brendon O’Leary was working as a prison sweeper when he ran to alert officers after seeing his long-time friend hanging in his cell.
‘I opened the door and there was a quick conversation,’ correctional officer Russell Smith said.
‘But all I heard in the conversation were two words: Chatfield and hanging.’
He and three other guards rushed to Mr Chatfield’s cell, lowered him to the floor and started CPR.
‘Neither of us could find a pulse,’ Mr Smith said.
In confronting hand-held footage aired on the request of family members on Wednesday, Mr Chatfield’s lifeless body can be seen being lifted out into the hall shortly after paramedics arrived.
An emotional Mr Smith said he’d never responded to such an incident in his almost 29-year career.
‘It wasn’t an officer with an inmate. It wasn’t a white man with an Aboriginal. It was an old man trying to get a young bloke out of trouble,’ he said.
‘It was an absolute tragedy.’
The five-day inquest at the NSW Coroner’s Court, headed by deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame, resumes on Thursday.
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