Inmate 'ate blades' before fatal escape

·2-min read

An Indigenous inmate who died trying to escape from NSW custody was earlier taken to hospital for purportedly swallowing batteries and razor blades, an inquest has heard.

But the man's cellmate says no batteries or razors were missing from their room and the inmate may have been angling to avoid time in an observation cell.

Bailey Mackander, 20, jumped off a wall at Gosford Hospital's ambulance bay on November 5, 2019 while trying to escape Corrective Services officers.

He hit concrete after a 10-metre fall and died the next day.

In her opening address to the inquest into Mackander's death, counsel assisting Tracey Stevens on Monday said the Wiradjuri man had longstanding issues with drug use and was on remand at Kariong Correctional Centre over drug and driving charges.

He had also been considered at risk of self-harm and was previously referred to mental health services due to chest pains, anxiety and panic attacks.

The day before the incident at Gosford Hospital, Mackander had a consultation with a psychologist and disclosed his "daily thoughts of suicide", Ms Stevens said. Later that day he was taken to hospital with chest pains, but was discharged.

The following day, Mackander again complained of chest pains and told prison staff he had swallowed batteries and razor blades.

He was again taken to Gosford Hospital and assessed but ran away from Corrective Services officers as they were leaving the facility. He then jumped the wall.

A subsequent autopsy found objects in Mackander's abdomen, Ms Stevens said.

Footage was played in NSW coroner's court on Monday from the ambulance bay which showed Mackander jumping over the wall, with part of the incident concealed by a parked ambulance.

Three police officers then run through the ambulance bay doors while paramedics scramble to drive an ambulance to Mackander's location at the foot of the wall.

A fence has since been erected at the ambulance bay and Senior Constable Jesse Mears told the inquest that the circumstances surrounding Mackander's death made it "avoidable".

Mackander's cellmate, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also said the 20-year-old's mental condition was rapidly deteriorating in the lead-up to his death.

Mackander was on November 4 placed in an observational "safe" cell after his consultation with the psychologist, which caused him further anxiety and rendered him "inconsolable".

The cellmate - who visited Mackander in the safe cell at guards' request - said the 20-year-old declared he'd complain of chest pains so he could be taken to hospital.

"He didn't have the capacity to process the situation he was in," the cellmate said.

"He didn't know how to deal with the fact he was incarcerated."

The cellmate later said he checked his room and no batteries or razor blades were missing.

The inquest continues before coroner Elaine Truscott.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636