WA death in custody inquest wraps up todayPosted on February 25, 2016
An inquiry into the death of a First Nations woman in Broome Western Australia has heard police were 'too busy' to conduct a welfare check and were not aware she was unwell.
Ms Mandijarra, a Balgo woman from the east Kimberley region, had been detained for a drinking offence while in Broome and taken to the towns police lock-up.
While adhering to WA Police policy, the court has been told that a staffing shortage prevented officers from sticking to the stricter conditions within the Broome police policy.
It is understood, according to Broome's police policy, officers are required to physically check on prisoners every 15 minutes for the first two hours and every half hour from there on.
Shift supervisor at the time of the incident, Sargent Troy Kendal says he was "too busy" to check on Ms Mandijarra in person, and instead remotely checked on her via CCTV.
The officers on duty were unaware she had diabetes, and septicaemia has been suggested by a forensic pathologist to be the cause of death.
Ms Mandijarra is believed to be the last death in custody in WA before the death of Yamatji woman Ms Dhu in 2014.
Officer in charge of the Broome Police Station, Senior Sergeant Brendon Barwick, who took over in March 2013 appeared before the inquiry to detail changes made at the station since Ms Mandijarra's death.
He said a custodial officer responsible for the welfare of those in the lock up is now on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week; a defibrillator has been fitted; and a timer now alerts officers to check on high-risk prisoners every 10 minutes.
The hearing is wrapping up today however findings are not expected to be handed down until later this year.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project