‘I’m through’: Cleveland Dodd’s final day at Unit 18 laid bare as inquest begins

At 11.30pm, all staff at Casuarina Prison units 15 to 18 were advised to prepare to transfer over to emergency power amid a planned outage.

But an inactive radio meant Unit 18 staff missed this call, and the response was “severe”.

The court was told Cleveland made two calls inquiring about the power at 11.39pm before complaining of a headache and requesting a nurse shortly after midnight.

After reflecting on the portion of his short life he had spent in detention, Cleveland made a final call to staff at 1.35am detailing how he intended to self-harm before carrying out his plan.

A neighbouring detainee brought the incident to the attention of a staff member, whose response was delayed by their failure to carry a radio.

CCTV showed the staff member walking to alert two others, who emerged from darkened offices, one of whom stood up from a “reclined position” before putting on shoes and buttoning their shirt.

A code red was declared from the control room and triple zero was called at 1.55am as staff began CPR.

Paramedics assessed Cleveland at 2.15am — nine minutes after they arrived at the prison — concluded he was in cardiac arrest and removed him from the cell.

After his pulse returned two minutes later, Cleveland was taken to Fiona Stanley Hospital before being transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, where medical staff concluded the 16-year-old had suffered a brain injury after being deprived of oxygen and that his condition was worsening.

Cleveland’s family chose to switch off his life support just after 10pm on October 19.

Crocker’s opening submissions detailed how Cleveland’s early exposure to domestic violence and substance abuse and refusal to attend school saw him become intimate with the justice system by the age of 12.

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The court was told a neuropsychologist report prepared for his criminal proceedings attributed his emotional and behavioural difficulties to early life trauma, a lack of communication skills, and developmental issues through exposure to domestic violence and cannabis.

Cleveland spent less than one hour out of his cell over eight of the 31 days he spent at Unit 18 during his first admission in late 2022, when he was transferred from Banksia Hill amid behavioural issues.

He would return to the prison on July 28, 2023 on the basis he had a history of absconding out of bounds and assaulting staff, and remained there until October 12, 2023.

The inquest, which is expected to run for 21 days over the next four months, will pore over what happened in the lead up to Cleveland’s self-harm attempt, the quality of his care, and whether it was appropriate for operations at Unit 18 to continue.

The court is expected to be closed on Thursday to allow a list of approved family members to view CCTV footage privately before witness testimony on Friday.

Crisis support is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14. For 24/7 crisis support run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, contact 13YARN (13 92 76).

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