'Systemic and human errors': mother calls for inquest into son's jailhouse murder

By Sam Rigney
INQUIRY: Sandra Deveson, whose son, Geoffrey Fardell, was murdered in jail is calling for an inquest to examine the issues around his death.

THE mother of a man murdered in jail by one of the state's most violent inmates, Windale's Richard Reay, has called for a coronial inquest to examine a number of issues surrounding his death, including why he was placed in a cell with such a notorious prisoner.

Reay was in July jailed for a maximum of 30 years for the "callous and sadistic" strangulation murder of his cellmate, 52-year-old Geoffrey Fardell, at the mid-north coast correctional centre in June, 2019.

But the criminal proceedings had left a number of important questions unanswered, including how Reay - who for the past two decades and across two states has established an almost unparalleled reputation for random and unprovoked acts of extreme violence, mayhem and bizarre behaviour behind bars - and Mr Fardell, who was described as "vulnerable" and "frail", came to be placed in a cell together. And the crucial question of why. Why Reay decided on the night of June 10, 2019, that he would place something around Mr Fardell's neck and strangle him.

Mr Fardell's mother, Sandra Deveson, who told the Newcastle Herald Reay should never be released due to the extreme risk he poses to the community, has written a letter to the NSW State Coroner, calling for an inquest to hopefully answer a number of those unresolved questions. In NSW, all deaths in custody are investigated by the coroner, but Ms Deveson said she was encouraged by the homicide victim support group to highlight how this case seemed to involve a number of "systemic and human errors".

"My son was an inmate under the care of NSW Corrective Services," Ms Deveson wrote. "He was serving his sentence, working and not causing any trouble. "Our family has many unanswered questions concerning the protection of my son. "We have met with representatives from [the mid-north coast correctional centre] regarding a root cause analysis undertaken regarding Geoffrey's death but we believe there are further questions to be answered about why Geoffrey was placed in a cell with such a violent offender. "I believe it is in the public's interest to have these issues examined. "I am respectfully requesting the NSW State Coroner hold a public inquest to openly and fairly examine the systemic and human errors that led to the death of my son."

Our family has many unanswered questions concerning the protection of my son.

Sandra Deveson wrote to the NSW State Coroner.

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