Cell safety concerns raised at inquest of 'kind woman'
An inquest into the deaths of two women at Queensland Police watch houses has heard a custody officer raised concerns he could not see into certain cells to perform safety observations.
A Queensland Police Ethical Standards investigator also testified that 11 out of 13 overnight checks officers performed on one of the women were "non-compliant" with custody procedures.
The Coroners Court has begun a two-week hearing into the deaths of Shiralee Deanne Tilberoo and Vlasta Wylucki.
Ms Tiberoo died on September 10, 2020, at Brisbane City Watch House, while Ms Wylucki died on February 28, 2018, at Southport Watch House, on the Gold Coast.
The first day of evidence focused on Ms Wylucki, who migrated from Croatia at an early age and became a registered nurse in Queensland before leaving the profession due to medical issues.
Ms Wylucki's daughter Laura read a family statement to the inquest.
"Sadly, things got a bit much for mum so her outlet was alcohol to numb the pain from her marriage breakdown and chronic health issues. I really want to stress how much of a kind, funny and caring woman my mother was," she told the inquest on Monday.
Senior Watch House Officer Daniel Marshall testified that he had booked Ms Wylucki into custody when she was arrested for an alleged domestic violence breach.
The inquest was previously shown security camera footage of Ms Wylucki sleeping on the floor of cell 19 behind a privacy partition for the toilet, which stood between the two prisoners and the cell door.
Counsel Assisting Sarah Lane asked Mr Marshall how easy it was to see if someone was breathing if they were lying behind the privacy screen in cell 19.
"You can't," Mr Marshall replied.
He agreed this was a concern and he "brought it up many times" but cell 19 and another similar cell were only changed after Ms Wylucki's death, to hold a maximum of one prisoner.
Ethical Standards Command investigator Detective Sergeant Sharon Pickett investigated Ms Wylucki's death and made recommendations for a discipline report and resolution plan.
"The checks ... were not being conducted in compliance with positioning of prisoners so they could actually see them," Det Sgt Pickett said.
Police Inspector Marcus Cryer, who was asked to review Ms Wylucki's death as a custody expert, testified the orientation of cell 19 was "unusual" and he would not put two prisoners in such a cell.
"I professionally don't believe it was a place where you would put a person for an overnight stay," Insp Cryer said.
Cairns Hospital director of cardiology Greg Starmer said he agreed with the autopsy that found Ms Wylucki's cause of death was arrhythmia - a fatally irregular heartbeat.
"It typically causes sudden cardiac death ... It's a side-effect of having a heart attack," he said.
Dr Starmer said no treatment other than immediate resuscitation would have had a chance at changing the outcome.