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Cleveland Dodd inquest: detainees were denied medication if they exhibited violent behaviour

Rhiannon Clarke -

Correctional staff refrained from providing medication to young detainees who had assaulted them, the inquest into the death of Cleveland Dodd has heard.

Cleveland, a 16-year-old Indigenous boy, was discovered unresponsive in his cell in Unit 18 of Perth's Casuarina Prison on October 12, 2023. He was pronounced dead days later in hospital, becoming the first child to die in detention in WA.

The inquest into his death has heard that leading up to him self-harming, Cleveland expressed intentions of self-harm eight times, requested medical attention and asked for water.

At the coroner's hearing on Thursday, Fiona Bain, the nurse who tried to save Cleveland's life prior to the arrival of paramedics, said she cannot recall a youth custodial officer informing her that he had sought medical assistance three times in the hours leading up to his fatal self-inflicted injury.

Ms Bain also noted she was not aware of the teenager's request for Panadol, as she explained the protocol that staff had to adhere to before administering medication to a detainee during the night shift.

Seeking permission from a senior officer was a crucial step in the process, as the nurse's request and professional recommendation could be rejected if there was a perceived risk of the detainee hoarding, overdosing, or selling the drug.

Furthermore, Ms Bain highlighted that senior officers had the authority to withhold medication from detainees who had previously assaulted correctional staff, whether it occurred earlier in the day or in the days leading up to the request.

Upon receiving authorisation, Ms Bain said the medication would typically be discreetly slid under the detainee's door on a sheet of paper.

She mentioned that if the detainee's cell lacked drinking water, which was often the case, the medication would generally not be given as it would necessitate the staff to open the cell door.

Typically, prescription medication was distributed to detainees in the early evening when their cell doors were unlocked for meal delivery. This process was closely supervised by a prison officer and a youth custodial officer equipped with a shield.

Ms Bain mentioned that had she been informed about the eight threats Cleveland made to harm himself and the six requests for Panadol, she would have visited his cell for assessment.

The inquest is ongoing.

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