Security cameras show Brown, nurse Atheana George and two other prison officers giving Nelson paracetamol through a cell hatch around 1:30 a.m. It was the last time staff saw her alive. .
During Brown’s night shift, the coroner heard Nelson make nine more calls for help over the prison intercom, including two final conversations that Lacy described as “disturbing” and “chilling.” Nothing was heard from Nelson after 4 am. His body was found later that morning.
The paramedics treating her believed she had been dead for some time.
Taking the witness stand for the first time on Friday after a failed Supreme Court fight to suppress his identity, Brown revealed that he now believed he should have done more to help Nelson during his final hours.
Brown accepted that she had a duty of care to Nelson and should have gone to see the 37-year-old woman after the inmate became unresponsive during her last intercom call. He also accepted that Nelson was deprived of “adequate” medical care during her stay and was not treated humanely.
The prison officer also criticized the medical care provided to inmates and the condition in which some arrived at the Yarra unit. He said night nurses often refused to walk the 200 meters from the medical unit to the Yarra unit to see patients overnight.
Prison officers are not allowed to call triple zero and more senior staff would need to be contacted to do so in any emergency, Brown said.
An autopsy later found that Nelson had the undiagnosed medical condition of Wilkie syndrome, a rare but life-threatening gastrointestinal condition.
Rishi Nathwani, representing Nelson’s mother, criticized Brown’s action and pressed the corrections officer for an internal review that praised his actions.
Nathwani said in the review that Dame Phyllis Frost general manager Tracey Jones said she was “proud” of the way Nelson was treated in his final hours and that Brown “sensitively handled intercom calls.”
On the stand, Brown disagreed. Jones is due to testify next week.
The images and audio contained in this story were released to the media with the permission of the family. For 24/7 crisis assistance run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, contact 13YARN (13 92 76).