Officers scrutinised at inquest

Grafton jail.
Grafton jail.

THE actions of Corrective Services officers who watched on as traffic offender Ian Klum crawled between Grafton jail cells four days before his death have come under scrutiny at a coronial inquest in Grafton court house.

Senior officer Rick Woelfl did not turn on the light of Grafton jail cell 219 when he and two other officers responded to a "knock-up call" about 2.30am on June 10, 2010.

If he had flicked the switch, he may have seen the large amounts of blood on the bed sheets of inmate Ian Klum who died in Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital four days later.

Mr Woelfl, who remains suspended from duties after the incident, faced a full day of questioning today at the inquest - a continuation of the week-long sittings of October last year.

Mr Woelfl, who told the court he had 25 years as a prison officer, was in charge of the jail on the midnight to 6am shift the night of the incident.

In response to the call for help, which came through the jail's intercom, Mr Woelfl said he attended the cell and asked the inmates (Mr Klum and Shane Johnson) what was going on and Johnson replied that Mr Klum had been snoring so he had hit the rail of the bunk bed to wake him up.

Grabbed around throat

Johnson then told Mr Woelfl that Klum had grabbed him around the throat but Mr Woelfl did not ask Johnson any questions at the time.

A conversation Mr Woelfl had several hours later with inmate Johnson was not detailed to the court except to say Mr Woelfl did not take any notes on the conversation.

Mr Woelfl said Mr Klum complied with directions to come to his cell door by walking from one end of his cell to the other, at which time he noticed bleeding from his nose and mouth.

But before Mr Klum reached the door, Mr Woelfl said, he slowly lowered himself to the floor where he lay slumped for a few seconds before crawling to a different cell.

Mr Woelfl said Mr Klum "shrugged off" an offer of assistance from officer Matt Barnett.

Klum thought to be "bunging it on"

Mr Woelfl admitted to the court he then ordered his colleagues not to touch Mr Klum because he thought he might be "bunging it on" considering he had walked inside his cell.

He said he thought Klum may pose a security risk to his staff considering his earlier walk and the fact that he was fully dressed.

Solicitor William de Mars, who is representing Mr Klum's family at the inquest, questioned Mr Woelfl's handling of the Klum incident and suggested it was "preposterous", given Mr Klum's condition, that he could not be rendered assistance because of some security risk.

Mr de Mars picked holes in Mr Woelfl's statements to Corrective Services Officers, police and his earlier testimony and suggested Mr Woelfl should have "at least" turned on the light of Mr Klum's cell, moved Johnson to a different cell and established a crime scene.

The inquest continues today before Coroner Malcolm MacPherson and is set down till Friday.

Topics:  coronial inquest, grafton jail, ian klum




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