Pubdate: Tue, 04 Jun 2013
Source: Tribune, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Allan Benner



'Drugs Enter Jail Through All Sorts of Different Sources'

WELLAND - It wasn't unusual for Randall Fawcett to sleep late while 
in custody at Niagara Detention Centre.

And corrections officer Josh Saunders believed Fawcett was still 
asleep when the 25- year-old Niagara Falls resident missed breakfast 
and remained in his cell after the doors were unlocked at 9 a. m.

"He always slept in," Saunders said. "He usually didn't come out 
until after lunch time."

But at about 10: 58 a. m. on this particular day, another inmate told 
Saunders he tried to talk to Fawcett and got no reply. And that was unusual.

"I immediately went to Cell 9," Saunders said while testifying Monday 
- - one of six witnesses called to the stand during a coroner's inquest 
into the Dec. 29, 2011, death of Fawcett, an inmate in the maximum 
security wing of the correctional facility in Thorold.

Saunders told inquest coroner Dr. Darryl Wolski and the five-member 
jury that he shook Fawcett trying to wake him up. There was no response.

Fawcett felt cold to the touch, he recalled. And he noticed a pink, 
foamy liquid by Fawcett's mouth.

"I radioed a medical alert and asked central control to call an 
ambulance," he recalled.

Detention centre staff began working to save his life while awaiting 
the arrival of paramedics. While Saunders tried unsuccessfully to use 
a defibrillator on Fawcett, corrections officer Mark Todorov administered CPR.

Registered nurses at the facility, including Nancy Zuliani, tried to 
provide oxygen but couldn't get the intubation tube in his mouth.

By that time, Zuliani and others testified that rigor mortis had 
already set in, locking Fawcett's jaw closed.

Corrections officer Scott Shennan was the last to see Fawcett alive, 
standing beside his bed at about 10: 30 the night before.

Niagara Regional Police Det. Michael Baxter said he began to suspect 
that drugs were to blame for Fawcett's death after interviews were 
conducted with other inmates.

He said police learned that a quantity of heroin was available within 
the detention centre the night before, and that Fawcett had purchased 
"four hits of heroin."

A post-mortem exam confirmed that Fawcett died of a drug overdose.

Reading the toxicology report, Baxter said Fawcett's remains 
contained more than 400 nanograms per millilitre of morphine, and 200 
ng/ml of 6-monoacetylmorphine, as well as other drugs - more than 
enough to kill someone. Baxter suspects the drugs that killed Fawcett 
were smuggled into Niagara Detention Centre, hidden in the one place 
where guards "are not allowed to search." He said people sometimes 
use small plastic containers to hold drugs, and hide them in their rectum.

Although inmates are regularly subjected to strip searches, Niagara 
Detention Centre superintendent Andrea Green said a physician is 
legally required to conduct a cavity search.

"We are not authorized to require an off ender to submit to a body 
cavity search," she said. "The (corrections) ministry does not 
authorize us to conduct body cavity searches."

If it's suspected that someone has hidden contraband within their 
body, she said that inmate can be isolated in a room with no running 
water until the contraband has been passed.

But that's just one way to smuggle drugs.

"Drugs enter jail through all sorts of different sources," she said.

In addition to using body cavities, she said people have tried to 
mail inmates letters containing drugs, they've sewn drugs into the 
seams of clothing and hidden them within their shoes, and they 
sometimes toss packages over the fence that surrounds the detention centre.

"It's an ongoing issue that we face pretty much daily," she said.

Most of the time it's prescription drugs, narcotics, cigarettes or 
marijuana that people try to smuggle in.

"Heroin, not so much," Green said.

Professional visitors have access to inmates and could potentially 
bring contraband inside with them, but "it's extremely rare for that 
to happen," she added.

The inquest resumes this morning at the Welland courthouse, with 
final submissions expected from the coroner's counsel, Mark Eshuis, 
and Niagara Detention Centre's counsel, Brian Whitehead.
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