New Brunswick

What Correctional Service Canada didn't want the Hines family to know

A correctional manager directed blood to be cleaned from Dorchester Penitentiary before police arrived after the death of Matthew Hines, according to an internal investigation. Those details were redacted in the copy received by the Hines family in 2016.

Manager directed blood to be cleaned before police arrived to investigate death of Matthew Hines

Matthew Hines was 33 years old when he died while a prison at Dorchester Penitentiary. (CBC)

For more than a year after 33-year-old Matthew Hines died, his family believed his death was related to a seizure.

They wouldn't know the truth — that Hines was pepper sprayed at least four times by correctional officers at Dorchester Penitentiary, and that he suffocated as a result of the spray — until 13 months had passed.

That's when Correctional Service Canada gave the family a copy of the board of investigation, an internal investigation conducted into Hines's death.

But in the family's copy of the report, parts were redacted. Swaths of black ink concealed that CSC failed to properly maintain part of Dorchester Penitentiary as a crime scene after Hines's death.

CSC also blacked out details of how a correctional manager directed a staff member and an inmate to clean up blood before RCMP arrived on scene.

The unredacted copy of that report became public last week, after a judge decided two correctional officers who pepper sprayed Hines will not go to trial and lifted a publication ban on hundreds of pages of evidence.

Alvida Ross, 49, and Mathieu Bourgoin, 33, had pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and criminal negligence causing the death of Hines, who was serving a prison sentence for bank robbery at the time of his death.

Correctional officer Mathieu Bourgoin pepper sprays Hines, as other officers duck away from the spray. (Correctional Service Canada)

No one from Correctional Service Canada was available Monday for an interview about the redactions.

In an emailed statement, spokesperson  Véronique Vallée said Correctional Service Canada may refuse to disclose "any record requested under both the Access to Information and Privacy Acts" that includes information about a "lawful investigation."

"Until such a time the investigation is complete, disclosure could impede the conclusion of the investigation," Vallée wrote.

'Go ahead and clean it now'

Hines was pronounced dead at the Moncton Hospital at 12:04 a.m. on May 27, 2015.

The RCMP didn't arrive on Unit 3, where Hines's cell was located, until 2:41 a.m.

Some of what happened in between that time was redacted in the Hines family's copy of the board of investigation report.

At 12:43 a.m., a correctional officer "opened Hines' cell and removed a mattress which was not in keeping with policy." This violated a commissioner's directive on "preservation of crime scenes and evidence," the board of investigation found.

An half hour later, at 1:13 a.m., an "Institutional Service Officer and inmate bio-hazard cleaner cleaned blood spill areas in Unit 3 as directed by the Duty CM [correctional manager]."

Portions of the board of investigation report given to the Hines family in 2016 were redacted. That includes this section, which details how blood was cleaned before RCMP arrived on scene. (Correctional Service Canada)

The institutional service officer (also called an ISO) was called in from home "prior to the death" and was directed to clean up blood in both Unit 3 and administrative segregation, where Hines was taken for decontamination after being pepper sprayed. The ISO was assisted by a trained inmate cleaner.

"The ISO advised the BOI [board of investigation] that she was aware that an inmate had died, and she was aware of institutional policy regarding an area needing to be cleared by security prior to cleaning but as the Duty CM [correctional manager] told her to 'go ahead and clean it now,' that the required clearance had been obtained," a redacted portion of the report says.

In his 2017 report on Hines's death, correctional investigator Ivan Zinger described the cleanup as "a serious breach compromising the preservation of a potential crime scene."

It's not clear whether the cleanup affected the initial investigation by RCMP in New Brunswick, which ruled out foul play in Hines's death. The investigation was eventually transferred to RCMP in Nova Scotia.

The report also redacted that the Correctional Service failed to complete a register for official visitors overnight between May 26 and May 27, 2015, violating a commissioner's directive on "control of entry to and exit from institutions."

Plan to release Hines not approved before death

The family's copy also blacked out details about a plan to release Hines to a community correctional centre in Halifax,  where he could access mental health care. A decision on the plan hadn't been made before Hines's death.

A month before he died, Hines woke his parents in the middle of the night, telling them he was afraid. When police arrived, he was doing jumping jacks and running around a hall.

Hines, who was on parole at the time, was returned to Dorchester Penitentiary.

Hines died before officials could sign off on a recommendation that he be released from prison into a community centre in Halifax. (CBC)

A community parole officer interviewed Hines after the incident, but Hines denied using illicit substances, a redacted section of the report says.

The parole officer couldn't access Hines's medical records from Cape Breton Regional Hospital without Hines's consent.

That meant there was "no proof that Hines had contravened his release condition 'not to consume drugs,' and the bizarre behaviour could have been due to mental illness as Hines claimed, which could have been managed in the community," the report says.

On May 11, 2015, less than two weeks before Hines died, an "assessment for decision" recommended he be released from Dorchester Penitentiary into a community correctional centre in Halifax.  

No decision was made before May 27, the day Hines died.