Kiwi dies in prison cell bucket

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 08:25 04/01/2013
Hans Dalton
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Hans Dalton, who was found dead in a prison cell in Samoa.

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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 had been visiting Samoa last month when Cyclone Evan struck the country.

His mother, Christine Bowker Wilson, told the Observer her son needed daily medication but when the cyclone hit he was left with no power or water.

He ended up missing two daily doses and was taken to the mental health unit at the National Hospital in Apia.

Bowker Wilson said he was given an injection that made him agitated and very angry.

He punched doors and so the mental health staff sent him to the 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'," Bowker Wilson told the Observer.

"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.

Bowker Wilson was taken to the hospital to view his body. She said he had severe head injuries and 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 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."

Bowker Wilson said police told her 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 brought 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," Pula said.

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

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

- Stuff

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