June 26, 2019
There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death in custody of a 58-year-old Blackbutt man jailed for manslaughter, State Coroner Terry Ryan has ruled.
However, in a finding handed down last week, the Coroner noted some “systemic shortcomings” surrounding the medical treatment of Michael Leslie Burrell but none of these caused or contributed to his death.
In 2009, Burrell pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to the manslaughter of his friend Norman Goetze, 49, at Blackbutt.
The court was told the men had been drinking together when a fight broke out.
Burrell admitted stabbing Mr Goetze once in the left side of his chest, severing a major artery.
Justice Roslyn Atkinson sentenced Burrell to 10 years’ jail.
Burrell was serving his sentence at the Wolston Correctional Centre when he complained of nausea and abdominal pain and was transferred to the Princess Alexandra Hospital on September 17, 2016.
He died at the hospital the next morning.
The Coroner said Burrell had terminal liver cancer at the time of his death which had developed as a result of cirrhosis and a long-standing Hepatitis C infection.
“Some shortcomings were acknowledged in the identification of Mr Burrell’s abdominal pain on admission, and in adherence by hospital staff to hospital procedures,” Mr Ryan said.
“However, I find that none of these systemic shortcomings caused or contributed to Mr Burrell’s death.
“I am also satisfied that the response by the PAH to the shortcomings identified was appropriate and sufficient.
“I also acknowledge that where the PAH’s clinical review identified human errors as contributory factors, the identification of those factors should not be equated with a finding of fault on the part of the relevant clinical staff.
“It was necessary to assess the actions of those staff in the context of the circumstances at the time.
“Subject to the systemic shortcomings identified … I am satisfied that Mr Burrell was given appropriate medical care by staff at WCC and at the PAH while he was admitted there. His death could not reasonably have been prevented.”