Grafton Court House
Grafton Court House

Inmate’s injuries ‘not survivable’, murder trial told

A GRAFTON jail inmate, who was brought to Grafton Base Hospital with a suspected brain injury, was unlikely to survive despite emergency surgery a Supreme Court jury has heard.

The trial of Shane Leslie Johnson, who has been accused of the murder of Ian Klum in Grafton jail in June 2010 heard from consulting pathologist Professor Johan Duflous yesterday, the main witness in the case for the accused.

During cross examination the Crown put to Prof Duflous that by the time prison officers brought Mr Klum to Grafton Base Hospital, about 5.40am on June 10, 2010, his injuries were "not survivable".

"It was highly likely he would not survive, but he was treated surgically in the hope he would survive," Prof Duflous said.

Mr Klum condition deteriorated and he was transferred to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Sydney, where he died on June 14, 2010.

During the night of June 9 and early hours of June 10, Mr Klum was involved in an altercation with his cellmate, Mr Johnson.

It's alleged the injuries he inflicted on Mr Klum resulted in the brain injury that kill him.

The defence called Prof Duflous to comment on the report from the doctor who conducted Mr Klum's autopsy, Dr Nathan Milne as well as other Justice Health documents.

Defence barrister Mr Watts questioned Prof Duflous at length about the nature of the subdural haemorrhage which killed Mr Klum.

Mr Watts said a CAT scan of Mr Klum revealed the presence of both chronic and acute subdural haematomas.

Prof Duflous said a chronic subdural haemorrhage was an older injury which had stopped bleeding.

An acute subdural haemorrhage was a more recent injury which was still bleeding.

He said the bleeding into the skull cavity put pressure on the brain, cutting off blood flow, crushing the brain matter and pressing the brain matter into the spinal cavity.

"In the end it was ... compression of his brain that caused his death," Prof Duflous said.

Much was made of Mr Klum's use of the drug Warfarin, which he used to treat a heart condition by thinning his blood. A side effect of this is poor blood clotting, which the medical expert said made his brain injury more serious.

Mr Watts said prison records showed Mr Klum complained of slipping over a week earlier and asked if this could have created the fatal brain injury.

Prof Duflous agreed it could, but that given the time frame it would be chronic rather than acute.

He was also asked to account for the range of injuries on Mr Klum including cuts to his right eyebrow, both lips and bruising to his body.

He said some of the injuries could be linked a possible altercation occurring four to five days earlier than his death.

But he said the injuries to the lips could have resulted from intubation during Mr Klum's treatment.

Mr Watts also presented evidence there was no sexual assault on Mr Klum on the night of the alleged assault.

A medical examination of a comatose Mr Klum on June 12 revealed no evidence of trauma around to the genital-anal region.

A procedure during the autopsy, which pathologists use if there is a suspicion of sexual assault also revealed no evidence of trauma to the ano-genital area.

The jury has been sent away until Monday when it will hear the Crown's closing address before Justice Geoffrey Bellew.