29 Aug 2012

Prison manager admits Dixon was illegally restrained

8:12 am on 29 August 2012

A prison manager says she knew it was illegal to physically restrain convicted murderer Antonie Dixon with a waist belt despite condoning prison staff having done so.

Dixon was found dead in his cell at Auckland Central Remand Prison in 2009 while awaiting sentence for murder and severing the hands of two women with a samurai sword.

An inquest in Auckland on Tuesday was told that staff put Dixon in a waist restraint just days before his death to stop him from self-harming, as he was out of control and repeatedly bashing his head against walls.

By law, a waist restraint can be used for the sole purpose of transporting prisoners.

Acting prison manager Grace Smith says Department of Corrections staff had Dixon's best interests at heart and the waist restraint was an appropriate mechanism to save the prisoner's life.

Ms Smith accepted that the more than 30 hours that Dixon was restrained is unreasonable. She says, however, that Dixon should have been restrained - despite the practise being illegal.

The inquest was also told there were no beds available in a unit for mentally-ill offenders in the days leading up to Dixon's death.

National Prisons health manager Bronwyn Donaldson says there had not been enough beds at the Mason Clinic so he was sent to the Auckland prison.

The inquest has ended with the Coroner reserving his findings.