Final submissions continue at inquest into prison death of Ashley Smith

TORONTO – Closing submission continue today at the Ashley Smith inquest in Toronto with arguments from the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

The Moncton, N.B., teen choked herself to death on Oct. 19, 2007, in her cell at Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont., as prison guards videotaped but did not intervene.

On Monday, the lawyer for Smith’s family called on the inquest to deem the 19-year-old Smith’s death a homicide.

Julian Roy told jurors that overwhelming evidence shows top managers ordered frontline staff to stay out of her cell as long as she was still breathing.

Lawyer Howard Rubel, who speaks for frontline officers, urged against a homicide finding, saying guards might have been confused but never complied with the no-entry order.

Rubel says the officers were trapped in a “hellish relationship” with Smith, were given no information about her mental health, and described Smith’s death as a “tragic accident.”

In submissions that reduced a juror to tears, Roy argued the teen did not mean to kill herself. She had told a guard she knew what she was doing and they would save her, he noted.

The lawyer urged jurors, who heard evidence from 83 witnesses over 109 days since Jan. 14, to recommend a ban on segregation for self-harming or mentally ill women, saying it only does more damage.

He also slammed Correctional Service Canada, which he said had no business looking after women like Smith, for its resistance to accountability and change.