A date has been finalized for a joint inquest examining the suspected opioid overdose deaths of three inmates at London’s Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.
The inquest, set to begin at 9 a.m. on Feb. 24 and last 12 days, will probe the events surrounding the deaths of Floyd Deleary, 39, Justin Thompson, 27, and Murray James Davis, 24, said the regional supervising coroner for West Region, Dr. Rick Mann.
All three were inmates at the jail when they died of what the province says was opiate toxicity in three separate incidents — Deleary on Aug. 23, 2015, Thompson on Oct. 31, 2016, and Davis on Aug. 17, 2017.
News of the finalized date comes more than two years after the initial inquest was announced in August 2017 involving Deleary and Thompson. David was added to the joint inquest in August 2018.
Approximately 30 witnesses will be heard at the inquest, which will take place at the Stoneridge Inn and Conference Centre on Burtwistle Lane in London.
The inquest coroner will be Dr. David Eden, with Vanessa Decker and Julian Roy as counsel to the coroner, the ministry says. The jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing future deaths.
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The inquest will be the second in the last six months involving the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. In September, a five-day inquest was held in St. Thomas, Ont., to examine the death of Michael Fall.
The 47-year-old died while in custody at the jail on the night of July 30, 2017, of what was determined to be an accidental fentanyl overdose.
The jury overseeing the inquest made 11 recommendations to the ministry and to the jail, including expanding a “direct observation” model piloted in one jail unit to all units, increasing the number of correctional officers working night shifts and having those officers be equipped with naloxone.
Fifteen inmates have died at the jail since 2009.
In May, the province’s human rights commissioner, Renu Mandhane, slammed conditions at the facility as overcrowded, unsanitary, dangerous and dehumanizing in a scathing letter to Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
Mandhane said conditions at the jail were among the worst she had seen in the province, and that they fall “well short” of the principles outlined in the United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Mandela Rules.
— With files from Matthew Trevithick