Aucklander dies in Samoan jail

Hans Dalton, who was found dead in a prison cell in Samoa.
Hans Dalton, who was found dead in a prison cell in Samoa.

A mentally ill Auckland man has been found dead, upside down in a bucket of water, in a Samoan prison, the Samoa Observer reports.

It named him as Hans Dalton, 38, and said he was visiting Samoa last month when Cyclone Evan struck.

His mother, Christine Bowker Wilson of Auckland, told the paper her son needed daily medication, but when the cyclone hit he was left with no power or water and missed two daily doses.
He was then taken to the Mental Health Unit at the National Hospital in Apia where Wilson said he was given an injection that made him agitated and very angry.

After punching doors mental health staff sent Dalton to an Apia police station.

"My daughter said the staff at the hospital told the police, 'You must look after this man; he is not a prisoner'," Wilson said.

"They stressed that Hans had not done anything criminally wrong - he was just sick."

Police took him to the Tafa'igata Prison, Samoa's main prison.

He died on Boxing Day in his cell.

Wilson was taken to the hospital to view her son's body and said he had suffered severe head injuries and had bruises all over his body.

Doctors told her his skull had been fractured.
"I know he banged his head on the wall, because people do that when they're in that condition; but if you see someone doing that, you don't just let them - you try and stop them from hurting themselves," she told the Samoan Observer.

"We were told that the walls at the prison are made of concrete - but even so, we were told by people in New Zealand that Hans could not have been killed that way."

Wilson said police told her that prisoners were calling out; saying they could hear "weird noises" coming from Dalton's cell.

Assistant Police Commissioner Le'aupepe Fatu Pula confirmed the death, describing it as "an alleged suicide".

He told the Observer that when Dalton was bought to the police station he was "agitated and very violent".

The police could not hold him in their cells.

"The station was too busy. There were people from different walks of life in the cells...there were complaints of screaming and violence by Mr. Dalton so that's why it was decided it would be best to take him to the prison."

He said at Tafa'igata Prison there were gallons of water for the toilets.

"It is alleged that Mr Dalton jumped inside the gallon head first, and that is why we suspect it was a suicide."

Wilson said she did not believe her son took his own life.

He was "a gentle and sensitive person with the most beautiful soul".

She said her son's death highlights the need for appropriate mental healthcare services and facilities in Samoa.

"You can't hold mentally ill people in rooms with glass, and the unit needs more than one room," Wilson said.

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