An Indigenous inmate who said he couldn't breathe while being held in an isolated cell was told by a guard "there's nothing wrong with you, other than your attitude", an inquest has heard. 

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains an image of a person who has died.

Bailey Mackander had notified prison staff that he was stressed, anxious, and couldn't breathe.

Mr Mackander died after escaping custody during a transfer at Gosford Hospital in November 2019.

He climbed over a concrete barrier, fell 10 metres, and died the next day.

The 20-year-old was on remand at the Kariong Correctional Centre on the NSW Central Coast for drug and driving offences.

The coroner at the inquest into his death today heard Mr Mackander was taken to hospital after he reported swallowing batteries and razor blades.

The inquest listened to distressing audio recordings from the prison's "knock up" system — an intercom between inmates and staff for medical emergencies. 

Mr Mackander used the system several times over the two days before his death, after he was placed in an isolated cell due to concerns about his mental condition.

The inquest heard the 20-year-old begging to be taken out of the isolated cell, in a highly emotional state.

"I'm stressed and I'm panicking, it's making me sick — I can't cope. 

"I'm f****** sick, I can't breathe," he said. 

"You can't breathe because you're winding yourself up," a guard replied over the intercom.

The inquest heard several other "knock up" calls, where Mr Mackander could be heard complaining of chest aches, gagging, vomiting, and uncontrollably crying.

"There nothing wrong with you at all, other than your attitude," one guard replied after a call. 

Another guard told Mr Mackander to slow his breathing, as he was heard gagging on the intercom system.

"You need to slow your breathing down mate, you're having a panic attack," the guard said. 

a young man smiling
Bailey Mackander died in 2019 after climbing over a concrete barrier and falling 10 metres.(

Supplied: Facebook


"I can't breathe," Mr Mackander replied.

"Mate, as I said, you're probably having a panic attack, you need to slow your breathing down." 

The court was also played CCTV video, which showed Mr Mackander curled up on the ground at times. 

In a number of clips, he was seen pacing back and forward in his cell, in a clear state of distress.

Mr Mackander's family was present in court while the audio, and videos, were played.

The inquest previously heard Mr Mackander's death was "avoidable", with the court shown photographs of the ambulance bay where his fall happened. 

It showed a large black grill erected on the cement wall, that was not in place when Mr Mackander jumped.

During evidence from the officer in charge of the investigation, Senior Constable Jesse Mears, the court heard the incident was "avoidable" partly because of the absence of the grill. 

The court heard an autopsy revealed there were "objects" in his abdomen, and the inquest will examine issues including Mr Mackander's care on the day of the incident and the day prior.

The inquest is expected to run for a full week before resuming in July.

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