A long-awaited coroner’s inquest into the death of Cordayro Joseph, an inmate who was found dead four years ago in Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP), continued yesterday with testimony from the prison officer who discovered him hanging.
Joseph’s death on September 24 2018 prompted a mandatory inquest, but it was delayed. No coroner’s inquest was held prior to Joseph’s burial, casting doubt on the circumstances surrounding his demise.
Joseph, 27, had been serving a 35-year jail sentence for the murder of Coldrick Lewis on Father’s Day, June 19 2011, at Clary’s Bar on Fort Road.
The inquest into Joseph’s death, which initially began a year ago, previously took a dramatic turn when attorney Wendel Robinson, representing the deceased’s family, requested the hearing be quashed. Robinson cited ongoing legal proceedings in the High Court of Justice as the reason.
Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh subsequently discharged the jury. The matter was then transferred to Magistrate Conliffe Clarke, who restarted the inquest from scratch with a new set of jurors in August of this year.
Yesterday, the inquest resumed with the testimony of Alphaeus Jackson, the prison officer who discovered Joseph hanging in his cell.
Jackson told the court that he was on the 6am to 2pm shift at the maximum security section of the prison that day, accompanied by another officer.
He described how, shortly after starting his shift, he released the inmates for their scheduled airing and showering in a locked area. However, Joseph refused to leave his cell, opting to stay behind while the others were monitored during their break.
The officer then recalled that, approximately 35 minutes into his shift, one inmate indicated that he was ready to go back to his cell and while taking him back the inmate alerted him to Joseph’s cell saying “the man mess up himself”.
Jackson said he ran to an office and armed himself with a flashlight due to the absence of lighting in the cell at the time and returned to find Joseph hanging from a steel bar in the small window of his cell.
Following this discovery, senior officers took charge of the scene.
Donnie Lewis, a corporal attached to the Forensic Evidence Recovery Unit, presented photographs of the scene to the court. The images depicted Joseph hanging with a piece of cloth around his neck, with a stack of books and bottles near his feet.
The hearing continues today.