How the Chronicle covered the story on May 19, 2007.
How the Chronicle covered the story on May 19, 2007.

Coroner slams rehab program

A BRISBANE coroner said the Maryborough Correctional Centre did not have the resources to provide appropriate programs to treat a mentally-ill prisoner who killed a man just days after he was released from custody.

Coroner John Lock said Daniel Pattel was well-known around Maryborough because of his strange behaviour, which included walking around town in little or odd clothing, being found in various places with razors or plastic bags threatening to kill himself, yelling out on the streets and pretending to shoot occupants in cars.

He had numerous dealings with the mental health system before being jailed for a violent assault against a Sunshine Coast taxi driver.

Pattel was an inmate at Maryborough Correctional Centre for three years before being released on parole on May 26, 2005.

One week later he killed homeless man John Simpson-Willson in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.

An inquest into Mr Simpson-Willson's death was held in the Brisbane Coroner's Court early this month.

Mr Lock said Pattel was known by prisoners and officers as “Fraido” and “Wee Wee”.

He kept his cell in a filthy state, spat at prisoners and prison officers, repeatedly washed his face, neck and hands until he injured himself, would bang his head against the cell wall at night and often appeared to be talking to himself.

Other odd behaviour included repeatedly writing slogans such as “I am the Lord Bastard” and “she is the Queen Bitch”, threatening to kill other prisoners and staff and making slashing motions across his throat with his finger.

Pattel also reportedly confessed to numerous killings, including the 1989 strangling of a 17-year-old Maryborough girl, four murders in Hobart and two murders in Surfers Paradise.

He told a prison officer he would kill again.

Mr Lock said it was clear Pattel was appropriately housed and fed in prison but his other needs were not met.

“Whether Daniel Pattel was suffering from an intellectual, behavioural or a mental health disability, he received virtually no treatment for his condition whilst in prison, mainly due to the fact there was no capacity to do so,” Mr Lock said.

“Maryborough Correctional Centre was not able to provide appropriate programs and Prison Mental Health Service and Disability Services Qld were simply not resourced to make up the gap.”

Prison Mental Health Service is provided by Queensland Health.

“The family of Mr Simpson-Willson was justly concerned that someone such as Daniel Pattel was released back into the community in the manner that occurred. They have suffered the greatest loss,” Mr Lock said.

“The family of Daniel Pattel can also feel aggrieved that despite their extensive advocacy over many years, their concerns about his behaviour and the failure to diagnose that he was indeed suffering from a mental illness as well as other conditions, fell on deaf ears.”

The Department of Corrective Services was contacted for a response and a spokesman said the provision of mental health services within prisons was a Queensland Health issue.

Queensland Health was contacted for comment.

But the department did not respond by deadline.

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