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Ashley Smith prison manager grilled at inquiry

05/30/2013 10:33 EDT | Updated 07/30/2013 05:12 EDT
A prison manager received dozens of concerns about incorrectly executed orders in the month that Ashley Smith died, an inquiry has heard.

Julian Roy, the lawyer for Ashley Smith's family, questioned correctional manager Eric Broadbent Wednesday at the inquest about testimony from five previous witnesses. He was a corrections manager at the Ontario prison where the Moncton teen choked to death in 2007.

The witnesses stated the guards Broadbent was responsible for were executing orders incorrectly.

"They have some versions about the directions that you were giving to them that are different from the evidence you gave,” Roy said.

Broadbent said that each witness misunderstood his direction to not enter Smith's cell if she was breathing. He said the order was to focus more on Smith's level of distress than about her ability to breath.

Alarm bells

Roy said the amount of feedback Broadbent was getting from staff and supervisors should have told him there was a problem that needed attention.

“The alarm bells are going off for you, you march into the warden's office and say, 'We got a problem,' right?” Roy said.

Broadbent said he did not.

“You went to your direct supervisor and said, 'We got a problem here,' right?"

“No, I did not,” he answered.

Broadbent testified that even after Smith died in her cell, upper management was telling him that staff were too quick to enter the young woman's cell.

"The discipline that you received — did it have something to do with you not entering the cell?” asked Roy.

“Actually, it had something to do with me entering the cell,” Broadbent replied.

“You got disciplinary action for entering the cell too early, right?” the lawyer asked.

“I was disciplined for entering the cell on pod three to keep Ashley safe,” Broadbent replied.

Broadbent is expected to return to the inquest Thursday for his third day of testimony.

The Ontario coroner's inquest into her death started on Jan. 14 in Toronto.

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