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Mother concerned after prison officers refuse to talk on death

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The mother of an indigenous man who died in custody in Adelaide has told an inquest she hasn’t seen video of her son’s altercation with prison officers because it’s “too painful to watch”.

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Caroline Anderson gave evidence at the inquest today into the death of Wayne Fella Morrison in 2016.

Morrison 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, with a video shown to the court of him being restrained at the time.

The 29-year-old was placed in a prison van but was blue and unresponsive when he was pulled out shortly after.

The inquest was told there was no video from inside the van and prison officers inside the vehicle had refused to give statements.

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

Anderson said she was concerned that officers involved had “blatantly refused to come forward”.

She also told the inquiry that as her son lay in a coma in hospital family members were never allowed to have time alone with him.

Only two visitors were allowed at a time and guards remained present at all times, the inquest heard.

“We were never left by ourselves. You couldn’t be yourself around him,” Anderson said.

“We were always being watched.”

She said at one stage a female officer used her body to continually block her children from getting close to him.

“Wayne’s dying at this time. He’s taking his last breaths,” Anderson said.

The inquest heard previously that a crucial aspect of the inquiry would involve what happened during the three minutes Morrison was held in the prison van after the initial altercation.

“Precisely what occurred in the van is unknown as seven of the eight prison staff who accompanied him have declined to provide police with statements,” Counsel Assisting Anthony Crocker said in his opening on Monday.

The inquest is continuing.

– AAP

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