21 Nov 2015

Coroner clears prison over inmate's death

1:17 pm on 21 November 2015

A coroner has found the death of a prisoner could not have been prevented if he'd been taken to hospital earlier.

Boyd Cuttance had been sent to Otago prison in 2011 for setting fire to cars in a hotel carpark and assaulting the bar manager.

He saw a prison nurse 30 times over 48 days, saying he was suffering from painful headaches.

His mother complained that Corrections and the prison health centre were not taking his condition seriously, and that he wasn't admitted to Dunedin Hospital until nearly seven weeks had passed.

He was admitted to Dunedin Hospital in January 2012 and died in March. He was 44.

Cuttance died after a fungal infection caused multiple strokes, leading to meningitis of the brain.

Coroner David Crerar said the man's severe headaches, vomiting and dizziness should have alerted staff that he had a serious underlying illness requiring urgent specialist care.

However, he found no evidence the prison care was below standard.