Evidence 'deleted' in Klum case
A PRISON officer told the coronial inquest at Grafton Court House yesterday into the death of Grafton jail inmate Ian Klum that two hours of footage "seems to have been deleted".
First-class correctional officer David Pearcey was being questioned by counsel assisting the coroner, Warwick Hunt, about the treatment Klum had received after prison guards received a "knock-up call" from Mr Klum's cell in the early hours of June 10, 2010.
Mr Pearcey was asked whether Klum was able to walk without assistance to a nearby treatment room where a nurse had assessed him three times during the morning.
He told the court Klum had walked without assistance on one occasion but was assisted on other occasions. "It would be brilliant if the footage hadn't been deleted to show all the movement," he said.
Klum died in Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane on June 14, 2010.
Earlier in yesterday's proceedings the court heard audio recordings and watched footage from the "knock-up call" which came from Mr Klum's cell and his movement to an observation room in the detox unit.
Though the identity of the voices have not been made clear, the court heard the following sequence involved Klum, his cellmate Shane Johnson and an officer in the jail's monitor room.
"I'm very sick."
"He's all f-ked up."
"What's up with him?"
"I'm bleeding up …(inaudible) in the mouth and nose."
"I'll let the boss know."
A different audio sequence is heard in which an unidentified prison officer is talking to Klum as he is moved from the shared cell of 219 to cell 225 on his own - both cells are in the centre's multi-purpose unit.
"Get up now … come on, stand up and walk, stand up," the voice says.
Klum was also seen on his knees just outside his cell door as three officers stood next to him for several seconds.
Two of the officers walk out of frame and Klum then crawls to another cell in the unit with one officer near him.
Other footage shows Klum remaining in the unit for several minutes before two officers assist him from the cell as another two officers watch on.
Klum, who appeared to be unable to walk of his own accord, is helped down a flight of stairs and into the jail's observation unit where the footage continues for 30 minutes.
Mr Hunt asked Mr Pearcey if he and two of the other officers on shift that evening, Rick Woelfl and Matt Barnett, had indicated they thought Klum was "bunging it on" or exaggerating his injuries.
Mr Pearcey said the issue was not discussed but admitted he was suspicious.
"Often the wool is pulled over your eyes by inmates," he said.
Mr Pearcey told the court he began to believe Klum's medical condition was genuine when he looked through his medical records.
"I saw the word Warfarin (a blood thinner) and a reference to a stroke he had in 1998 and I thought 'if there's head injuries, he'll be going (to hospital)'," he said.
"We used to have a nurse on duty every night ... every knock-up the officer used to be accompanied by a registered nurse but it got cut back."
Coroner Malcolm MacPherson asked Mr Pearcey when this procedure changed and he replied he wasn't sure but estimated about 18 months to two years ago.
Mr MacPherson said he did not expect the inquest would finish by Friday and would schedule dates in the future that would suit Mr Klum's family.
The Woolgoolga-based family of Ian Klum issued a statement outside the courthouse yesterday. The statement is written in full below:
IAN was and remains a deeply loved son, father, brother and former partner and friend. The pain of Ian's death and the fact that he was taken from all of us in such a horrific and devastating way has not lessened in impact at all in the last 16 months as we have awaited the coronial inquest into his death to commence. We are grateful to live in a country which allows for independent scrutiny of its institutional systems.
The coronial inquest, we expect, will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the system in whose care Ian's life was placed, and very suddenly lost. This process is incredibly difficult for us, but we believe it is important for evaluation, and re-evaluation of our institutional systems to occur so that improvements can be made to prevent further deaths in custody. We hope and pray that the full truth of what happened to Ian and all aspects of his treatment will be thoroughly scrutinised by the coroner. What happened to Ian and our family could happen to any family.
We are here at Ian's inquest to honour his memory, and equally to seek to prevent the repetition of other deaths in custody. It is totally unacceptable for such deaths to continue anywhere in our community.
We ask the media that during the inquest that the privacy and dignity of our family is respected. We will not be making any further comments until an appropriate time in the future.