Inquest into Klum death under way

THE coronial inquest into the death of Ian Klum, who died days after being rushed to hospital from his Grafton jail cell in June 2010, began yesterday at Grafton court house.

Six members of Mr Klum's family sat in the court's jury box and Deputy State Coroner Malcolm MacPherson told family members he would be happy to take breaks in the inquest if proceedings became "too much" for them.

There have been questions about Klum's death on June 14, 2010, in Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital - four days after he was taken to Grafton Base Hospital with a medical condition and/or suspected head injuries.

Police questioned Klum's cellmate at the time but charges were never laid and it is understood Klum suffered significant underlying medical conditions which may or may not have played a part in his death.

Much of yesterday's proceedings involved an application for a non-publication order of the CCTV footage recorded inside the jail the night Klum first reported his injuries or medical concerns to jail staff.

The application was put to the court by barrister Stephen Russell, who is representing the three Corrective Services officers who were working on the night - Rick Woelfl (senior officer), Matt Pearcey and David Barnett.

Mr Russell, who was appointed by the Public Services Association of NSW, told the court it was not in the public interest for the footage to be viewed by the wider public and that if it was to "go viral" on the internet it may unfairly prejudice his clients in the eyes of the public.

"(The footage) is prone to engender strong emotion in the eye of the public ... seeing that material in isolation and with no other information is prone to infect the process."

He said once released, the media could "do what they want" with the footage and were under no obligation to provide other information when presenting it.

Mr Woelfl remains suspended from his position while Mr Pearcey and Mr Barnett have been on sick leave since July, the court heard.

The call for a non-publication order on the footage was supported by counsel for the Department of Corrective Services, Patrick Saidi.

Solicitor William de Mars, who is representing Mr Klum's family, said the family opposed the application for a non-publication order, saying inquires into deaths in custody should be treated under an "open justice principle".

Coroner MacPherson said videos which went "viral" were just part of modern life.

He denied the application for a non-publication order, saying the footage would be played in open court as the inquest proceeded.

A 186-paragraph brief prepared by Senior Constable Doug Scott of Grafton police was tendered into evidence late yesterday and Snr Const Scott is expected to take the stand today.

The coroner and legal representatives yesterday afternoon inspected the area of Grafton jail where Klum was being incarcerated.

The inquest is scheduled to run until Friday.

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