Supporters of Rebecca Lyn Maher, an Aboriginal woman who died in Hunter police custody, have held an emotional protest and march calling for “justice” for the Wiradjuri woman.
Ms Maher died of mixed drug toxicity in a Maitland police station on July 19, 2016, after she was found walking on Wollombi Road at Cessnock.
She was not arrested. An inquest into her death that began last week heard she was taken to the police station because of her level of intoxication.
Wednesday’s protest came before the eighth day of the inquest began.
About 30 supporters, some holding signs emblazoned with the words “justice for Rebecca” marched from Civic Park to Newcastle courthouse chanting “they say accident, we say murder”.
“Had the police taken her to a hospital rather than a police station, she would be alive today - make no mistake about that,” one of Ms Maher’s supporters Tracey Hanshaw said at the rally.
“The police have left four children orphaned because they didn’t take her to a hospital, they threw her in a cell.”
Ms Maher was 36-years-old when she died of mixed drug toxicity in a Maitland police station cell in the early hours of July 19, 2016.
At the time, the Wiradjuri woman was the first Aboriginal person to die in NSW Police custody in 16 years.
- Officer told not to search woman before death in police station cell
- No screening process before woman died in Hunter police station cell
- Police station was 'last resort', officer tells death in custody inquest
- Inquest day one: Woman had more than 30 pills with her when she died in police cell
- 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
Wednesday's rally began at Civic Park at 8am followed by a march to Newcastle courthouse at 8.45am, where the protest took place.
Ms Maher was detained the morning she died because of her level of intoxication - though she was not arrested - after she was found walking on Wollombi Road at Cessnock.
Wednesday will be the eighth day of the inquest before Acting NSW State Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan.
While you’re with us, did you know The Herald is now offering breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up-to-date with all the local news - sign up here.