Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Coroner’s inquest jury into Surrey Pretrial death calls for improvements

John Michael Murphy, 25, died on Aug. 3, 2016 after a fight with his cellmate

A coroner’s inquest jury into the 2016 death of John Michael Murphy at Surrey Pretrial Services Centre has recommended better surveillance of prisoners, better communication during shift changes and optimizing “speed of access” for emergency personnel responding to a crisis.

Murphy, 25, died on Aug. 3, 2016, after a fight with his cellmate during which Murphy was held in a choke-hold for longer than 10 minutes. John Cole Burt, 22, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and in 2018 was sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

The inquest began Nov. 12, on the 20th floor of 4720 Kingsway in Metrotower II in Burnaby, and the jury was charged on Nov. 19. Presiding Coroner Larry Marzinzik determined the homicide occurred by “neck compression due to or as a consequence of strangulation.”

The jury made five recommendations for BC Corrections, BC Ambulance Service, BC Corrections, Fraser Health Authority and Surrey Memorial Hospital, toward preventing similar deaths from happening.

READ ALSO: Charge now laid in Surrey jail killing

READ ALSO: Inquest scheduled into inmate’s death at Surrey Pretrial Centre

Andy Watson, manager of strategic communications for the BC Coroner’s Service, noted that a coroner’s inquest is not designed to assign blame but rather the Coroners Act “permits the chief coroners to hold an inquest if the public has an interest in being informed of the circumstances surrounding a death, or if the death resulted from a dangerous practice or circumstance.”

The jury recommended that BC Corrections “reinforce, with additional and ongoing staff training,” the existing standard operation procedures for the segregation unit “with respect to compliance regarding the safety and security for staff and inmates, specifically with reference to log book documentation, visual unit cell checks, synchronization of video camera time displays” and “exchange of critical information between staff during shift changes.”

The inquest jury also recommended that BC Corrections also consider expanding its video monitoring system “to supplement existing visual unit cell checks,” using larger monitors and software that provides automated rotating cell views, and training staff to use any new technology.

“Consider changing policy to prevent inmates who are involved in the same incident of violence, and are sent to segregation pending a disciplinary hearing, from being placed together in the same cell,” the jury further recommended.

It also recommended that BC Corrections and BC Ambulance Service collaborate to devise a plan “to optimize speed of access for responding emergency personnel to all areas to the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre” and that BC Corrections, Fraser Health Authority and Surrey Memorial Hospital “collaborate to develop a mutually acceptable protocol for the handling and security of inmates in a hospital environment.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Former White Rock mayor, MP shares community connections via YouTube

Gordie Hogg aims to highlight those who’ve impacted South Surrey, White Rock

Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society doing ‘better than we were expecting’ amid COVID-19

At one point, the board thought it might have a donation shortfall of $250,000

Delta artist John Horton named to Order of British Columbia

Honour for significant contributions made to the appreciation and safety of B.C.’s coastal history

Wrong-way driver triggers multi-vehicle collision on Highway 99 in South Surrey

Police received multiple reports of vehicle heading north in southbound lanes

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read

l -->