Coroner's report on black death attacked

Wednesday, October 30, 1991

Coroner's report on black death attacked

By Leon Harrison

PERTH — The West Australian Aboriginal Medical Service says it will fight the findings of coroner David McCann over the death of 35-year-old Aboriginal prisoner Edward Isaacs.

According to McCann, Edward Isaacs died of a heart attack on January 25, 1990, while being held in Canning Vale prison. In his findings, released last month, McCann claimed that Isaacs, who had a long history of diabetes and recurrent pancreatitis, had died of "natural causes" after collapsing during a prison study class.

AMS president Robert Isaacs expressed surprise and disgust at McCann's statements that Edward Isaacs' medical treatment had been "appropriate". He noted that four other prisoners from Canning Vale had told the inquest Edward Isaacs had complained of chest pains months before his death. Despite this, medics from the prison gave evidence saying Isaacs had not told them of chest pains.

Furthermore, the inquest was told that Isaacs' most recent medical report did not include details of a heart complaint and treatments for heart disease.

Edward Isaacs' sister, Jennifer Nannup, said McCann "had all the evidence to come up with a very different decision".

"I had expected the Department (of Corrective Services) to be rapped over the knuckles" by the coroner, said Robert Isaacs. The AMS would ask the Aboriginal Legal Service to look into a legal challenge to McCann's findings.

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