*Tane Chatfield’s grieving parents, Nioka and Colin, outside Sydney’s Department of Justice (Photo: Wendy John)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following story contains the name and image of a person who has died.
The inquest into the death in custody of Tane Chatfield, a 22-year-old Gomeroi and Wakka Wakka man, has begun in the NSW Coroner’s Court.
Mr Chatfield died in Tamworth Correctional Centre in 2017. Police say he took his own life.
Coroner Harriet Grahame acknowledged his family’s grief at the start of the week-long hearing.
“You have my sincere and heartfelt condolences [for] one of the worst pains any parent can experience,” she said.
Tane Chatfield’s mother Nioka, disputes the police findings and was among those calling for justice during a rally in Sydney on Saturday (July 11).
“How much [longer] are we going to put up with that sickening feeling in our guts,” she asked the crowd. “Who’s going to be responsible?”
Tane Chatfield had been on remand for two years. He was found unresponsive in his cell after returning from only the first day of his armed robbery hearing, in nearby Armidale.
While Corrective Services ruled that his death was “without suspicion,” the Chatfield family is hoping this week’s inquest will cast more light on what happened that night.
At the end of Saturday’s rally, Colin Chatfield knelt before candles spelling out his son’s name. After a few minutes of silence he loudly cried, “You murdered my boy!”
The Chatfield family’s call for answers has been echoed at Black Lives Matter rallies around Australia.
Just a week before Saturday’s silent walk to Sydney’s Town Hall, protestors also gathered at the Domain, where elders Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor and Nadina Dixon led a smoking ceremony and family representatives spoke about the lives and deaths of David Dungay Jr., Edward Russell, Eddie Murray, and Tane Chatfield.
— Wendy John @WendyJohn8