A mother’s fight for justice vindicated

Mrs Terri Simpson’s compensation claim against the NSW Government for the nervous shock she suffered as a result of her son’s death in custody has recently been settled in her favour.

In 2002, Mrs Simpson’s son Scott went to prison on a minor charge. At the time, Scott was
suffering from a severe mental illness. Mrs Simpson did everything she could to make his time in prison as comfortable as possible.

The 66-year-old pensioner sent him money to buy socks and food, visited him as often as she could and never missed a Saturday phone call. However, the one thing that she could not do was stop him from committing suicide in custody in June 2004 after spending the final two years of his life locked in solitary confinement.

PIAC’s Chief Executive Officer Ms Robin Banks said, ‘Since her son’s death, Mrs Simpson has fought to hold the Department of Corrective Services and Justice Health accountable for her son’s death. Mrs Simpson’s life will never be the same’.

In 2006, the NSW Deputy State Coroner found that Justice Health and the Department of
Corrective Services failed to ensure that Scott Simpson received adequate and timely medical
treatment for his mental illness. In handing down her findings, the Coroner said: ‘more could have been done, should have been done and it wasn’t’.

Mrs Simpson said, ‘I brought this claim because the Department of Corrective Services and
Justice Health failed my son. They knew he suffered from a mental illness but instead of giving him medical treatment they locked him away in a cell on his own. They have never apologised to me for his death. I only hope that they make amends by ensuring that no other prisoner’s mother has to suffer like I do every day over Scottie’s death’.

‘PIAC has had a long involvement in custody and detention issues representing clients and
working towards systemic change within Justice Health and Corrective Services so situations like Scott Simpson’s do not occur again’, Ms Banks added.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,

Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169

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