Suspicious circumstances: Injustice served at the David Dungay inquest

Author:Mr Paul Gregoire
Profession:Sydney Criminal Lawyers

Six Immediate Action Team (IAT) officers stormed the cell that Dunghutti man David Dungay Junior was occupying in the hospital ward of Long Bay prison on 29 December 2015. The riot squad officers had been called in because the 26-year-old diabetic refused to stop eating a packet of biscuits.

The officers then dragged Mr Dungay into an observation cell and placed him face down on a bed in the potentially-fatal prone position. The young Aboriginal man called out a total of 12 twelve times that he couldn't breathe, whilst some of the officers continued to kneel on him.

The IAT guards then called in a nurse to administer David with a 10 milligram shot of midazolam: a fast-acting sedative. And about a minute before he took his final breath, one of the officers piped in with the line, "If you can talk, you can breathe."

The inquest into the death of David Dungay began in July last year. However, two weeks in, the family was told that the proceedings had to be postponed as the court had ran out of time. So, the final hearings were held in March this year.

And just last week, NSW deputy state coroner Derek Lee delivered his findings. The magistrate made 20 recommendations, none of which related to the IAT officers being held to account. However, he did point the finger at the nurse, and suggested his professional conduct be reviewed.

Restrained until death

"He was killed by the Long Bay IAT team using brutal, life-taking force, which came from a power play from corrective services," Mr Dungay's cousin Elizabeth Ann Jarrett told Sydney Criminal Lawyers.

"We sat and heard over and over through the coronial inquest that David was suffering no medical or security emergency," she continued. "Yet, the IAT team still took the judgment call - without following proper protocols or procedures - to storm David's cell with brutal force."

The Gumbaynggirr Dunghutti Bundjalung woman explained that she bases her understanding of what happened to her cousin on the " horrific CCTV footage of his last minutes of life" that was released late last year.

The final moments of the clip show several officers kneeling on David, whilst he is literally screaming that he can't breathe. So, it's not as if the officers were unaware that a potentially life-threatening situation was at hand, or rather, they should have been.

One officer casually and repeatedly tells Dungay that he can breathe despite his protestations to the contrary. This officer, who was directing the...

To continue reading