Ashley Smith strangled herself multiple times a day: guard

Michelle-Lynn Erstikaitis, a diagnosed psychopath, and long-time offender, poses for a photo in downtown Toronto, Ont. on Thursday Nov.22, 2012. She says she was in cell next to Ashley Smith and shared her version of events.

Credits: Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/ QMI Agency


TORONTO – Ashley Smith would try and strangle herself up to eight times on a bad day, a coroner's inquest heard.

Smith, 19 strangled herself to death on Oct. 19 2007 while guards at the Grand Valley prison in Kitchener watched.

The inquest reviewed video showing guards dealing with Smith on June 7, 2007.

The footage shows prison guard Blaine Phibbs and other corrections officers dealing with Smith in her segregated cell as she was tying ligatures around her neck.

Phibbs is seen pleading with Smith to take a wet piece of bed sheet that was covering the cell door window down so he could see her.

"I don't have to do anything I don't want to," Smith replied.

The inquest heard guards are to deal with inmates with the "least restriction," which meant not touching Smith.

Phibbs is seen on his knees looking through the food slot on her cell door, telling Smith her behaviour would result in fewer privileges such as television and radio time.

On several occasions, five guards stormed into the cell to take off a ligature that was turning Smith blue.

"You're blue again. That's not cool," Phibbs said.

Phibbs added officers were needed to restrain Smith who was aggressive.

"You are over doing your job," Smith yelled.

Smith was known to hide ligatures in her vagina and anus and corrections officers can't do cavity searches because they suspect something is hidden.

After several attempts to strangle herself on the day the video was shot, the prison warden decided to send Smith to the Grand Valley hospital on a involuntary admission under the Mental Health Act, where a cavity search could be performed by a physician.

Phibbs said Smith had to be medicated and restrained at the hospital for three days before she was sent to a mental health centre in St. Thomas.

On Tuesday, Phibbs aid he had no training in the use of restraints and court was shown video of Smith being duct-taped to seats, forcibly medicated and strapped down for hours in wet clothes with no food.
Smith spent 11 months in custody for throwing apple at a postal worker and stealing a CD.

She spent time in nine different prisons in five provinces and received little treatment for her mental illness.

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