Villawood security guards knew ice was thrown over fence, inquest hears

Villawood security guards knew ice was thrown over fence, inquest hears

Villawood security guards knew ice was thrown over fence, inquest hears

Updated 19 September 2017, 17:45 AEST

Despite security reports which stated drugs were being thrown over the fence to an inmate at Villawood's detention centre, the security manager says he did not know the inmate was using ice when he died.

A SERCO security manager says he did not know an inmate was using ice when he died, despite security reports stating drugs were being thrown over the fence to the man, an inquest has heard.

New Zealander Robert Peihopa, 42, died from heart failure after taking the drug ice at the Villawood Detention Centre in April 2016.

The coronial inquest into his death has heard Mr Peihopa was a long-time user of ice and had used it in jail and in the detention centre.

Counsel assisting the coroner Naomi Sharp read a security report on Mr Peihopa, which said drugs were being thrown over the fence for him.

"'Blank' stated...that detainee Peihopa has been accessing drugs thrown over the fence from his visitor named Tracey," she said.

The manager of the detention centre's guards, who can only be referred to as Amit, said he was not aware Mr Peihopa had been using drugs despite this report.

"I didn't get any specific handover relating to Robert in that shift," he said.

The manager said guards, employed by SERCO, had found various paraphernalia in the centre which indicated detainees were using the drug ice.

"We keep hearing about [ice] because the detainee service officers conduct room searches and...there are pieces of aluminium foil and we've got that on many occasions," he said.

Family not satisfied with investigation into Robert's death

Mr Peihopa had been in the detention centre for almost 10 months awaiting deportation on character grounds after multiple criminal convictions.

He was transferred to the facility after serving jail time for reckless driving under the influence of drugs.

Mr Peihopa's family believe bruising and cuts on his face as well as a gash on the back of his head may have led to his death.

Outside court Mr Peihopa's mother, Hera Peihopa, said she was not satisfied with the reason given for her son's death.

"I was told that he had died and it was suspected it was heart failure but it was still unconfirmed as far as I was aware," she said.

"I was concerned because I think at that point things had not been investigated to my satisfaction and it was a rather unexpected explanation.

"I'm hoping to get to the truth of what exactly happened to my son in the lead up to his death."

The inquiry continues.

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