One of the police officers who brought Rebecca Lyn Maher to Maitland police station the night she died in a cell of mixed drug toxicity was told not to search the 36-year-old because of an incorrect belief the Wiradjuri woman had Hepatitis C and was HIV positive, a court has heard.
Acting NSW State Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan's inquest into the 2016 death of Ms Maher continued in Newcastle on Monday.
Counsel assisting the coroner David Buchanan continued his questioning of Senior Constable Gregory Hosie, who was the custody manager at Maitland police station the morning Ms Maher died.
Mr Buchanan asked Senior Constable Hosie whether he instructed Senior Constable Elizabeth South - who is also expected to give evidence at the inquest - not to conduct a search when she and her partner arrived at Maitland police station with Ms Maher in the early hours of July 19, 2016.
The court heard Senior Constable Hosie sensed concern from Senior Constable South that Ms Maher had Hepatitis C and was HIV positive and that Ms Maher had been involuntarily spitting as she spoke. Ms Maher was not infected with Hepatitis C and was not HIV positive the morning she died.
Senior Constable Hosie agreed that he told Senior Constable South not to search Ms Maher, though he said he understood "you can't get those diseases just by touching".
"I could see the concern [from Senior Constable South] in relation to exposure," he said.
"Ms Maher was only there as an intoxicated person, she hadn't committed a crime … I just didn't see the risk of not conducting a search."
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- Inquest day two: Witness tells of Rebecca Maher's final days
- Woman found dead at Maitland police station
- Rebecca Maher's family still looking for answers one year after her death in Maitland police station cell
The court heard that Senior Constable Hosie was not aware of the NSW Police Code of Practice for Custody, Rights, Investigation, Management and Evidence until he was reviewing the brief of evidence for Ms Maher's inquest.
The code sets out the practices for having people in police custody.
The inquest heard last week that Ms Maher had more than 30 benzodiazepine tablets in the cell with her when she passed away.
Senior Constable Hosie will continue to give evidence at the inquest on Tuesday.
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