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Psychiatrist a no-show at inquest into Auckland man's death in Samoan custody

Hans Dalton's siblings, Nicholas and Natasha Dalton with lawyer Olinda Woodroffe

Auckland, NEW ZEALAND — The psychiatrist who treated a New Zealand man shortly before he was found dead in a Samoan prison cell has refused to give evidence at an inquest into the man's death.

Hans Dalton died on Boxing Day, 2012. He was found head-down in a 44-gallon water drum.

His family believe he was killed. Samoan authorities initially believed it was a suicide but later charged a man with murder. The accused man was acquitted and now the family is seeking civil damages in Samoa.

Dr Ian Parkin treated Dalton before he was transferred to a police station and then on to prison.

He was due to give evidence on Wednesday by audio-visual link from Samoa but failed to show up at the allocated time.

Coroner Peter Ryan presided over the inquest at the Auckland District Court.

"This is a huge gap in our information," Coroner Ryan said on Thursday.

He said the doctor had sent an email to the court, including an affidavit.

"In his email he has indicated he prefers not to give evidence because of the civil proceedings that are underway."

Outside court, the family's lawyer Olinda Woodroffe showed her frustration at not being able to get information out of the Samoan government.

"As a Samoan citizen, I believe it is the right thing to do – to actually provide everything."

She called on the New Zealand Government to put pressure on Samoan authorities.

Woodroffe confirmed she was representing the family in civil proceedings in Samoa and said despite filing the paperwork some years ago, she was yet to receive a date for the hearing.

She said the Samoan government had made an offer to try and settle the case but it was less than 100,000 tala (NZ$53,407).

"It is quite clear that Hans did not kill himself, when you see all the injuries on his head, hands, face and back."

Dalton's brother Nicholas Dalton told the inquest he believed his brother was murdered.

He said his brother was put in a prison cell for his own safety.

"To beat him to death and put his body upside down in a drum was evil."

Nicholas Dalton said he had seen his brother's behaviour when unwell but said: "He did not deserve to die just because he was yelling, screaming and shouting."

Nicholas Dalton said he'd never known his brother to raise his hand against anyone and described him as a "brave and gentle soul".


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