Coronial inquest probes Junior Fenika's suicide in Goulburn Correctional Centre

An inquest into the death of a Goulburn Correctional Centre inmate is underway.
An inquest into the death of a Goulburn Correctional Centre inmate is underway.

An inquest into the death of a Goulburn Correctional Centre inmate is continuing in Goulburn on Tuesday.

The coronial inquest is examining the suicide of 23-year-old Junior Fenika in the ‘Supermax’ in September 2015.

He was being held in isolation one month after he was due to be released.

On the first day of hearings on Monday, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Fenika had made “multiple attempts” to signal for help in the hours before his death.

The NSW Coroner is in part examining whether officers were watching a rugby league quarter final between the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm, instead of checking on Fenika.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Simeon Beckett, told the court that Fenika had used his intercom twice in the hours before his death, once at 9.17pm and again at 9.23pm, the ABC reported.

In recordings played to the inquest, Fenika called for help, saying he had “slashed up”. In one of the recordings, an officer asked him to repeat what he had said.

The inquest heard that the officer advised corrections officers conducting roving patrols about the two calls. 

He then told Fenika that officers were on their way, but they did not attend, the ABC reported.

The court was told that Fenika was not checked until 8.30am the following morning, when his body was discovered.

CCTV footage showed a mix of blood and water being washed out into the cell yard.

He had earlier attempted to flood his cell in an effort to draw attention after his calls for help went unanswered.

"Junior Fenika was attempting to signal to anyone watching on the CCTV or in the sterile zone that he was in distress and in need of help," Mr Beckett told the court.

The inquest also heard this was despite a Corrective Services policy that officers should respond to every call.

Another correctional officers on duty that night said he did not notice the water on the floor, and that flooding was known to occur if the drains were blocked, the ABC reported.

The inquest is also examining Fenika’s “deteriorating” mental health and whether treatment was adequate.

AAP reported that at the time of his death, Fenika was receiving antipsychotic treatments following violent behaviour and threats of self harm, as well as reporting he believed the guards were trying to kill him, and that he heard voices.

Fenika’s sentence had expired in August 2015, but he remained in the Supermax because the Immigration Department had cancelled his visa and was deporting him.

He was born in New Zealand and came from a large Samoan family which moved to Sydney in 1996, although he never took out Australian citizenship, AAP reported. 

He was transferred to an adult prison at age 18 after spending time in juvenile detention centres for violence and property offences. 

The inquest will continue in Goulburn until Friday, before resuming in Sydney on April 17.

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