By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — A Manitoba judge says an inmate who died of a morphine overdose probably got the drug from two other prisoners who snuck it into the jail in hollow chocolate Kinder eggs.
Provincial court Judge John Combs recommends corrections officers take more precautions to prevent drugs being smuggled behind bars by inmates who have been taken into the community for appointments.
Combs, who oversaw an inquest into the overdose death of a high-ranking motorcycle gang member, also writes in his report that inmates should not be told when or where they are going for medical or community visits.
Jean Paul Beaumont, 39, was found dead in bed in his cell at the Brandon Correctional Centre in 2012.
Two days before, two of Beaumont’s cellmates had arranged for a drug drop after a corrections officer told them about a doctor’s appointment. It allowed enough time for the inmates to arrange for an accomplice to leave drugs in a hospital bathroom.
“There would seem to be strong evidence in this case that there was prior knowledge of the exact time and location of a medical appointment for (Beaumont’s) cellmate at (Winnipeg’s) Health Science Centre,” Combs writes in his report released Friday.
“This likely gave inmates time to arrange for a drug drop,” he says.
“The drugs were to be placed in Kinder eggs and attached to the blind side of the toilet tank.”
Combs also recommends that officers escorting inmates in the community should not allow them to use the most obvious washrooms. He suggests one on a different floor or in another part of the building should be used instead.
The inquest report says video shows that about seven inmates congregated in Beaumont’s cell the evening before his death. Inmates later told investigators they were doing drugs.
Beaumont’s sister told the inquest she was given evidence that her brother was killed by fellow gang members, but the judge found he is most likely to have died from an accidental overdose.
The inquest heard that Beaumont was part of the Rock Machine motorcycle gang, whose members were rivals of the Hells Angels in Winnipeg. He had a reputation as a “violent individual who garnered both fear and respect,” the report says.
Combs notes that drugs were also being brought into the Brandon jail in courier packages which weren’t being opened in advance by guards. Since Beaumont’s death, the policy around courier mail has changed.
The judge also recommended more thorough welfare checks on inmates by corrections officers on their rounds and exploring the option of panic alarms in individual cells.