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Guards ordered to face inquest on SA death in custody

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Seven prison guards will be required to give evidence at an inquest into the death of an inmate in detention despite arguing they could face criminal charges if compelled to appear.

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Deputy State Coroner Jayne Basheer has ruled that the privilege against self-exposure to penalty is not available to the guards in relation to her inquiry into the death of Wayne Fella Morrison.

Morrison, 29, died in September 2016 after being restrained and put face down in a prison van at Yatala Prison in Adelaide’s north.

The inquest has previously heard he was in custody on assault charges and was being taken for a court appearance by video link when he became involved in a scuffle with officers.

He was lifted into a prison van but was blue and unresponsive when he was pulled out a few minutes later.

Despite resuscitation attempts, Morrison did not regain consciousness and died in hospital several days later.

In her ruling in relation to the guards today, Basheer said there was no basis on which to excuse them from giving evidence.

She said the question of self-incrimination could be dealt with on a question-by-question basis.

“It is for the presiding judicial officer to determine whether the objection taken is good and whether there are reasonable grounds for the belief on the part of the witness that he or she is, or may be, in peril of future criminal or like proceedings if the answer is given,” the deputy coroner said.

Basheer has also ruled that she is entitled to examine the events that happened after the altercation and after Morrison was removed from the prison van.

“When conducting an inquiry into a death in custody, in my view the Coroners Court is not only entitled to examine these wider circumstances but is obliged to do so,” she said.

– AAP

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