17 July 2006
Commission welcomes Coroner's findings into the death of Scott Simpson
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission welcomes the findings and recommendations in the case of Scott Ashley Simpson, handed down today by the New South Wales Deputy State Coroner Magistrate Pinch.
Mr Simpson hanged himself at the Long Bay Correctional Centre, Malabar on 7 June 2004. He had paranoid schizophrenia.
In particular the Commission welcomes the Coroner's recommendations to improve the way in which people with a mental illness are dealt with by the criminal justice system.
The Commission was granted leave to intervene in the Coronial Inquest and made both written and oral submissions, many of which were adopted in full or in part by the Coroner when formulating her recommendations.
"It is very sad that it takes a life to highlight the wrongs in the system," said Human Rights Commissioner Mr Graeme Innes. "The system in this case failed Mr Simpson completely."
"Lessons can be learned from Mr Simpson's death and the changes recommended by the Coroner, if acted upon, will go a long way towards ensuring this tragedy is not repeated."
In relation to Mr Simpson, the Coroner found:
- Mr Simpson was not provided with adequate medical treatment during his incarceration;
- the time Mr Simpson spent in segregation lead inevitably to a deterioration of his mental state until the crisis point was reached on 7 June 2004;
- that more could have been done to secure a hospital bed for Mr Simpson, but wasn't;
- that Justice Health administrators were reluctant to admit Mr Simpson to D ward, whether unconvinced of the clinical urgency or because of security considerations or a combination of both.
A copy of the Commission's written submissions in the case can be found at: www.humanrights.gov.au
Media contact: Janine MacDonald 02 9284 9677 or 0407 660 235
Last updated 05 July 2006.