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

Surrey council sets new rules for Good Citizen of the Year award

Candidates have more hurdles to jump before getting nominated for the prestigious local title

EXPLORE SURREY: Tee up some adventures in the city

Also: A walk through Surrey’s public art collection

In honour of player killed in crash, Surrey soccer team becomes BB5 United

Brandon Bassi died a few months before CCB won the national title last fall

North Surrey rink to reopen first as part of city’s phased schedule for facilities

Councillor pushes for Surrey’s pools and aquatic centres to reopen this month

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Displaced tenant ‘heartbroken’ to find Langley City condo robbed after fire

Wedding rings of Michelle Buchan’s have since been recovered, but much is still missing

‘Agitated’ man pulls out knife on 3 people in Abbotsford

Witnesses sought for incident on Monday night near city hall

FoodMesh taking its emergency food recovery project nationwide

Pilot project in Chilliwack helped show that food surpluses could be diverted to charities in need

Most Read