Senior officer when teen harmed breached lawful order

A senior officer in charge of a troubled youth wing in an adult prison on the night an Indigenous teenager fatally harmed himself had been found to have breached a lawful order but remained on duty.

Cleveland Dodd was found unresponsive in the early hours of October 12, 2023, inside his cell in Unit 18 in Perth's Casuarina Prison, becoming the first juvenile to die in detention in Western Australia.

The 16-year-old had made eight threats to self-harm in the hours before he was discovered and transported to hospital, where he died eight days later.

A coronial inquest into his death in Perth on Tuesday heard the Department of Justice's professional standards division made a finding against the senior officer working at the unit on the night, Kyle Mead-Hunter, in the hours before Cleveland harmed himself.

Lawyer Steven Penglis, who is representing Cleveland's mother Nadene Dodd, said Mr Mead-Hunter had breached a lawful order related to streaming YouTube videos and engaging in Instagram chat forums for about four hours while working a night shift earlier in the year.

Mr Penglis said Mr Meade-Hunter was found to have contravened the department's code of conduct on two other occasions for sitting in darkened offices alone and with another worker for more than three hours.

He read to the court a transcript of three conversations between Cleveland and youth custodial officer Nina Hayden in the hours before the teen harmed himself.

During the conversations via Cleveland's cell intercom, he repeatedly asks for the unit's nurse Fiona Bain because he has a headache and threatens to harm himself.

Cleveland Dodd
Cleveland Dodd unsuccessfully applied for bail on the day he self-harmed and later died.

Ms Hayden, who appeared as a witness, told Cleveland to remain patient to which he replied he had been detained for years.

Mr Penglis said Cleveland was reflecting on his life during the conversation and Ms Hayden had been sympathetic before the lawyer asked if it concerned her given his threats to self-harm.

She said it was unusual but it hadn't worried her. Ms Hayden said she didn't know Cleveland had applied for and been denied bail earlier in the day.

The court heard Ms Hayden was forced to fill in as the senior officer on the night shift while she was a probationary officer.

"I remember not being sure if I wanted to do that with the little experience I had," she said.

Ms Hayden said she was not aware of the Department of Justice's Unit 18 policy and procedures, including the behaviour standards for correction officers, which instruct officers to be positive at work and to treat detainees lawfully and humanely.

Asked how achievable that was in Unit 18, Ms Hayden said: "Not very achievable".

Ms Hayden started crying when CCTV footage recorded in Unit 18 the night Cleveland harmed himself was played to the court.

It showed her calling triple-zero after he was found and escorting paramedics to his cell.

The inquest exploring his treatment in the unit and the department's procedures and policies has heard there were a string of failures on the night.

A base radio to enable communication between the unit and the prison was switched off.

Asked why this had happened, Ms Hayden said it should have been on and it may have been off to cut out noisy radio chatter in the control room.

Some staff, including Ms Hayden and the officer who found Cleveland, were not carrying radios, in contravention of department policy.

Lifeline 13 11 14

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

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