Inquest into death of Ashley Smith resumes today after summer break

TORONTO – The coroner’s inquest into the prison death of troubled teenager Ashley Smith resumes today after a summer break.

At least 50 witnesses are scheduled to testify in the inquest’s second half, including the warden and deputy warden from Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont., where Smith died.

The first six months of the inquiry revealed that many people in the prison system cared deeply about her, while others cared more about their jobs, advancing their careers or pushing paper.

They also showed the 19-year-old was a mentally-ill girl who at times wanted to kill herself, at other times dreamed of getting married, and who could by turns be sweet and funny, aggressive and manipulative.

Until breaking on July 1 the inquest under Dr. John Carlisle heard from more than 50 witnesses including guards, a pilot, middle managers, psychologists, psychiatrists and nurses.

They came from most of the nine institutions in five provinces through which Smith, of Moncton, N.B., was shunted 17 times in the last year of a life that ended Oct. 19, 2007, in isolation at the Kitchener prison.