May 29, 2014 11:25 am

Report on jail cell death advises quashing some mandatory inquests

Robert Wood died in RCMP custody on Jan. 3, 2010. He fell and hit his head on the concrete floor of the drunk tank at the Nelson House, Man., RCMP station.

File / Global News

WINNIPEG – A Manitoba judge is recommending the province give courts the power to quash mandatory inquests to save time and resources.

Judge Brian Colli made the recommendation after presiding over an inquest into the death of an intoxicated man who died in RCMP custody after a fall.

Robert Wood died in Winnipeg on Jan. 3, 2010, after he fell and hit his head on a cell’s concrete floor at the Nelson House, Man., RCMP station on New Year’s Day.

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“The facts are straightforward,” Colli’s inquest report states. “Given the number of witnesses I heard from … I am surprised that there are so few inconsistencies among the versions of events.”

The RCMP was the only party that requested standing, Colli says, but the inquest still took two years from start to finish.

He says inquests tend to be costly and drawn out, which takes away precious resources from other areas of the judicial system.

Colli recommends the province amend the Fatality Inquiries Act to allow judges to cancel a mandatory inquest if no member of the public expresses interest and it’s unlikely to yield any recommendations.

Inquests are mandatory in Manitoba if someone dies while in police custody or in a psychiatric institution.

– With files from Global News

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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