Geoffrey John Fardell died on June 11.
Geoffrey John Fardell died on June 11. Contributed

Heartbroken Ballina mum wants justice for son killed in jail

IT'S the phone call no mother wants to receive.

Ballina mother Sandra Deveson was on holidays when a police officer called her and said: "I've got some sad news".

Ballina resident Geoffrey Fardell, 52, was killed while in protective custody at Mid North Coast Corrections Centre, near Kempsey, last month.

He was found dead in his cell on June 11.

The 44-year-old man accused of Mr Fardell's murder, who is an inmate at the same facility, is to appear in Kempsey Local Court on August 21.

After allegedly receiving threats while incarcerated in Grafton Correctional Centre, Mr Fardell was moved to the Mid North Coast facility to be placed under protective custody.

He had been expected to face Ballina Local Court on Friday to face multiple charges including driving while under the influence of drugs, two counts of destroying or damaging property, two counts of stalk/intimidate and count of breaching a domestic violence order.

But Ms Deveson said her eldest son deserved to have not feared for his life while in prison.

"Since this has happened, everything is under review, but this is far too late for Geoff," she said.

"He was really looking forward to getting out. He'd sent family members letters saying he wasn't missing smoking.

"He didn't want to come back (to Ballina) because there was too much temptation. He had already arranged to go down to Bathurst.

"I'm just trying to be strong to get justice for Geoff, he has to have justice because this should not have happened."

Ms Deveson, who lives in the Northern Rivers, received the phone call while she was on holiday.

"When I took the call, the policeman said 'I've got some sad news' and I just threw the phone down and said 'I don't want this phone call' and laid down on the bed and screamed 'I just want to talk to him'," she said.

"That's all I could think of.

"The whole thing is really, really hurtful."

Mr Fardell's death is now a criminal matter before the courts, but Ms Deveson said she was frustrated with the lack of answers during the investigation into her son's death.

"I'm waking up at night thinking about Geoff laying on the floor and about how it happened and why it happened," she said.

"There's just so many things running through your head because you don't have answers.

"I think my worst fear is that Geoffrey knew what was happening to him ... I'm just feeling for Geoff and that he was suffering."

Ms Deveson hoped something would be done to ensure better measures were put in place to protect inmates.

"Some reform absolutely needs to be done," she said.

"I've questioned that if they're in protective custody, why would they be in a cell with someone else because I figured they would be placed on their own.

"I think the screening should be done a lot better."

Corrective Services NSW has created a taskforce, which will be led by three CSNSW Assistant Commissioners, to look at assessments and decision-making to determine double-up cell placements.

The review will begin immediately.

A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said all deaths in custody were subject to a coronial inquest.

"Every aspect of the incident, including management and placement of the inmates involved, response times and action, will be thoroughly reviewed," she said.



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