Indigenous man on life support after being found unconscious in 'safe' Perth prison cell

Jordan Robert Anderson’s family told he will not recover after he was found unconscious following an apparent suicide attempt in Hakea maximum security prison

An Aboriginal man is on life support after being found unresponsive in a “safe” cell at Perth’s Hakea remand prison.

Jordan Robert Anderson, 23, had been moved “down the back” of the maximum security prison last Thursday, into what his father described as a “punishment” cell in the secure unit used for detainees held in solitary for disciplinary reasons, or about whom prison staff have welfare concerns.

He was discovered hanging shortly after midnight on Saturday night and taken by ambulance to Fiona Stanley hospital, where he was placed in the intensive care unit and remains in a coma.

His family have gathered at his bedside for five days and have been told by doctors that he will not recover.

Anderson, a Noongar man and father of two daughters, had been in custody on remand for several months and was due to appear in court on a number of charges next week.

His father, Lyle Anderson, was taken on Wednesday to see the cell where his son was discovered and said police had already begun their coronial investigation into a death in custody, despite his son still being on life support.

“He was in a punishment cell,” he said. “They said it happened between 10.20pm and 12.20pm – there’s a two-hour window.”

Anderson senior said he had questions about what had happened to his son, both before and after the apparent suicide attempt, and had sought permission to speak to his cellmates.

“Some of the boys that I spoke to there said that it happened about nine or 10,” he said. “He was already braindead when they found him.”

In a statement, the Department of Corrective Services confirmed a 23-year-old man had been taken by ambulance to the hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The family, including two siblings brought in handcuffs from other WA prisons, have been saying their goodbyes to Anderson and are expected to turn off his life support.

Uncle Ben Taylor, a Noongar elder and great-great uncle of Jordan Anderson, was among those gathered at the bedside on Thursday.

“I just sat his bed for half an hour, intensive care,” Taylor told Guardian Australia. “Now these idiot doctors come down and said they are going to shut down the machines.”

The 77-year-old said he had been to too many deathbeds of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people caught up in the justice system.

Monday marked the fourth anniversary of the death in custody of another young Noongar man, Jayden Bennell, who died in an assumed suicide attempt at Casuarina prison in 2013.

The findings of a coronial inquest into his death, held last year, are expected to be handed down this month.

Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day: Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467; Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800; MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78; Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636


Calla Wahlquist

The GuardianTramp

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