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Coroner’s inquest hears former inmate’s account of blatant drug activity at Barton Street jail

Ontario Coroner's inquest

Former Barton Street jail inmate Sean Coyne describes the day leading up to the first “code white” for Marty Tykoliz as a “circus” and the minutes after as “chaos.”

READ MORE: Barton Street jail inquest hears about limits of naloxone following opioid overdose

His account of events was taken by Hamilton police in 2014, just days after Marty’s death. It has been made available to the jury at a coroner’s inquest who are trying to discern the facts in eight inmate deaths at the jail between 2012 and 2016. They have an opportunity to provide recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths at its conclusion.

Coyne passed away last year, but his taped statement is now part of the evidence before them.

In the portion shown so far, Coyne describes himself as someone who didn’t partake in drug activity but rather sat back, read, and observed.

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Days before Tykoliz went into distress, he said it was made known that someone was coming into the jail with a package, specifically contraband drugs. By lunchtime on May 5, 2014, “they were bouncing off the walls,” said Coyne, referring in part to Tykoliz. At one point, he describes crack cocaine smoke setting off the fire alarm in Marty’s cell, with no intervention by correctional staff.

That same day, a “staggering” inmate was advertising the availability of methadone, cell by cell, Coyne tells Hamilton police.

By that night, he said he was on his knees praying for Marty.

READ MORE: Coroner’s inquest hears testimony from former inmate about Barton Street jail conditions during labour disruption

He was found, according to an agreed statement of facts, unresponsive in his cell with laboured breathing.

The emergency response, the jury has heard, involved using Narcan before sending him to hospital. He was discharged a few hours later and placed in segregation, where the two correctional officers testified on Wednesday, they heard loud snoring.

Correctional Officer John Denger explained he didn’t necessarily suspect the snoring as a symptom, in isolation, as being related to overdose.

Tykoliz died on May 7, 2014, from what toxicology lists as acute methadone toxicity.

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