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Inquest into the death of Cleveland Dodd confirmed for April 3

Dechlan Brennan -

A coronial inquest into the death of 16-year-old Cleveland Dodd, who took his own life in the Unit 18 youth detention facility at Perth's Casuarina Prison, has been set down for April 3.

The Aboriginal teenager was the first child to die in custody in Australia in more than a decade, and the first in WA history. His death had been widely condemned, with the corrective services commissioner replaced in the aftermath of Cleveland' death.

The inquest is likely to further examine the circumstances that led to Cleveland's death, after findings revealed in an inquiry by the Department of Justice outlined a myriad of shocking failures in the system.

These include allegations a staff member was asleep at the time Cleveland took his own life, a broken vent used as a ligature point had gone unrepaired for close to a month, and a record of Cleveland's welfare on the night of his death appeared to be fabricated.

Amnesty International Australia said in the aftermath of his death that high level members of the WA Government had "ignored repeated warnings" that the children incarcerated at Unit 18 experience "intolerable levels of distress, putting their safety at risk".

The West Australian reported Cleveland's mother Nadene Dodd was told last December the inquest would commence on April 3. The coroner's court confirmed on Thursday the inquest would sit from April 3 to 12, before reconvening on July 22 for a further three weeks.

Previously, Cleveland's name was suppressed in reference to the hearing. However, after submissions by lawyers for the family, the court confirmed he would be identified throughout the proceeding.

"While there are legislative protections preventing the identification of deceased children, the presiding Coroner has determined that given the particular circumstances of this case, the non-publication direction in respect to the name of Child DC can be lifted," the court said in a statement.

"The court will now refer to him by his full name, Cleveland Keith Dodd."

Last year, Cleveland's family said in a statement they wanted people to be held accountable for his death.

"Racism must not protect wrongdoers. How is it those who fabricated welfare checks have not been charged? How is it those who locked him in a cell endlessly for months and in which his eyes last sight was, those who cruelled hopeless fate have not been charged? We will fight for the truth and not let us be denied truth because we are what you call us, 'Black'," they said.

"We want the people who designed and approved the inhumane Unit 18, named and brought to account, charged. It is an evil place where hopelessness destroys mortal life. We want them charged."

The WA government has come under fire for their treatment of teenage inmates, which has seen a series of children - many on remand - being kept at the adult Casuarina Prison in the notorious Unit 18.

There has been widespread calls for the facility to close, however it still remains open. Last month, Corrections Minister Paul Papalia said the lack of air conditioning in Unit 18 "isn't a major issue," despite a heatwave gripping the state.

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Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905


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