Prison van death took ‘up to an hour’

Mark Holcroft should have been diagnosed as being at high risk of having a heart attack a week before he died in a NSW prison van, according to evidence given at the Coroner’s Court in Glebe today.

Speaking this week at an Inquest into Mr Holcroft’s death, Associate Professor John Raftos, Senior Specialist in Emergency Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital, said Mr Holcroft died of a heart attack associated with arterial disease.

Mr Holcroft (pictured) had told a doctor that he was suffering chest pain a week before his death. He was given tablets to ease the pain, but according to Professor Raftos, he should have been taken to hospital.

The Inquest began last week in Wagga Wagga. It heard evidence from the guards who were driving the van, and also from a former prisoner, Andrew Bond, who was one of several prisoners inside the van when Mr Holcroft died.

Mr Bond told the Inquest there was no way to communicate with the guards who were driving the van, so inmates started to yell, wave at security cameras and rock the prisoner compartment to alert them to the fact that Mr Holcroft was having a heart attack.

One of the guards, Clive Bateman, told the inquest he heard the noise but assumed the commotion was because the inmates were getting bored.

This week, Doctor Douglas Oxbrow told the Coroner he believed it took between 30 minutes and an hour for Mr Holcroft to die in the van.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre is representing Mark Holcroft’s family at the Inquest.

PIAC chief executive officer, Edward Santow, said, “Mr Holcroft’s death not only raises questions about the transport of prisoners; it also raises questions about the quality of health care received by prisoners in NSW.”

The Inquest continues this week.

Read more:

Sydney Morning Herald, Prisoner who died in van at high risk of heart attack

ABC News, Prison van death took ‘up to an hour’

PIAC media release, Inquest into prison van death moves to Glebe court

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