New Brunswick

Ashley Smith suicide inquest delayed

An Ontario coroner has delayed an inquest into the prison death of troubled teenager Ashley Smith.

N.B. teen strangled herself in Ont. prison

An Ontario coroner has delayed an inquest into the prison death of troubled teenager Ashley Smith.

The 19-year-old from New Brunswick strangled herself in her cell at a federal prison in October 2007 as prison guards watched.

A coroner's inquest was set to begin Nov. 1, but has now been put over to 2011 while the Smith family's lawyers ask for the scope of the inquest to be widened. The coroner has agreed to a full hearing on that request.

The family wants the inquest to look at why Smith was transferred from juvenile lockup in New Brunswick to a federal prison, and why she was transferred to 11 different federal institutions across Canada in the final year of her life.

Smith, who was known to be suicidal, was in solitary confinement — and on suicide watch — when she strangled herself with a piece of cloth and died of asphyxia at the Grand Valley Institute for Women, a federal prison in Kitchener, Ont.

Smith, who had committed a series of minor offences, spent from 2003 to 2006 in two New Brunswick correctional facilities before being transferred to Grand Valley, her 17th transfer in less than a year.

There have been suggestions corrections officials transferred her often in order to circumvent a law requiring them to conduct a review any time an inmate is kept in solitary confinement for more than 60 days.

Smith had complained of poor treatment by the correctional service, alleging she was assaulted, deprived of psychiatric care and frequently transferred among prisons and treatment facilities across Canada.

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