Holtze Prison
Holtze Prison

Prisoner ‘crying out for help’ before death

AN American man locked up at Holtze Prison on drugs charges was "crying out for help" and "lost in a bureaucratic jungle" in the weeks before he took his own life, an inquest into his death has heard.

Sean Daniel Collins, 32, died at Holtze Prison in October 2017 while serving a four-year jail sentence.

Collins had been living in Australia since 2012 and was largely estranged from his family, although his mother and two sisters travelled to Darwin for the coronial inquest.

Counsel assisting the coroner Kelvin Currie told the inquest on Monday that Collins had spoken of being "screwed over" by his jail sentence.

Collins had at first hoped he would serve as little as six months before being deported, but a two-year non parole period was likely made in error, and was set to be extended.

His hopes of appealing his sentence were fading, with friends who were holding money on his behalf overseas stalling with promises to send Collins's money back to Australia to pay for a lawyer.

The Canadian government had also shut down a "dark web" online drug network where Collins had more money tied up as Bitcoin.

Mr Currie said the inquest would focus on the quality of care afforded to Collins during his time in jail.

Julian Godde, who was in a cell nearby Collins's said Collins "sort of kept to himself" in jail.

Mr Godde said being jailed, even for a short stint on drink driving charges, was a harrowing experience.

"It fairly well broke me, so I can imagine what it was like for him being a strange country," Mr Godde said.

Mr Godde said when he first asked for help with his mental health, he thought he would get "a shoulder to cry on".

"But no, it was just lock me up in a room (on self-harm watch)."

He said he rarely slept in jail, "tossing and turning 101,000 things on your mind".

One of the guards who found Collins, Andrew Nicol, described the American as "a very reserved person".

Another prison guard, Gregory Coates, said Collins would often "stop and have a little chat".

"The prisoners, there's lots of different characters and they all interact with us in different ways but they're all our responsibility," Mr Coates said.

"I feel that they're all my responsibility."

Mr Cavanagh said of Collins's frustrated attempts to get help for his drug problem and mental health: "This is an example of a man crying out for help, who is lost in a bureaucratic jungle".

The inquest continues.


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