*Family and friends of Tane Chatfield (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 parents of Indigenous man Tane Chatfield received just a single “sorry” during the week-long inquest into their son’s death in custody.
The 22-year-old father died in hospital on September 22, 2017 – two days after he was found unconscious in his cell at Tamworth Correctional Centre.
“Tane Chatfield did not receive the care from Justice Health that he deserved,” a department representative told the hearing at the NSW Coroner’s Court in Sydney.
Colin and Nioka Chatfield dispute a Corrective Services ruling that their son’s death was not suspicious, and are now calling for an independent body to investigate all Indigenous deaths in custody.
*Nioka Chatfield outside the NSW Coroner’s Court in Sydney (Video: Wendy John)
Witnesses told Deputy State Coroner Harriet Graham, that Tane Chatfield experienced multiple seizures the night before his alleged suicide attempt, and was taken to Tamworth Base Hospital. He was released the following morning without a medical discharge summary and returned to a cell with a hanging point.
Council assisting the coroner Tracey Stevens, called for the urgent removal of all hanging points: “This has been the subject for previous coronial recommendations and cannot be overstated.”
Ms Stevens was also critical of the prison’s nursing unit manager for not reading the after-hours report “which would have provided relevant clinical information.”
“She should have been aware of his seizures. Had she known, she would have recommended that he be placed in a two-out cell (with a cellmate).”
Family members told the hearing that the young father was “not the person people make him out to be.”
Marisha Chatfield spoke of her brother’s time in juvenile detention – an institution she described as “built on violence and punishments and drugs”.
She also criticised the corrective services system for removing their father from them during their childhood. “Dad was beaten down by the same system,” she said. “So if you want to know what intergenerational trauma is like – it’s like this.”
In response, Ms Grahame flagged that she hoped that “any report of this inquest touches on the truth of intergenerational trauma because I think it’s been expressed very clearly today.”
Her findings will be released at Armidale Local Court on August 26.
— Wendy John @wendyjohn8