DAWSON CREEEK -- The Coroners Inquest looking into the death of Jaime Hope entered its fourth day today with testimony from security experts, current, and former Dawson Creek staff sergeants.

The 23-year-old died in hospital in Prince George after going into medical distress while in police custody in April of 2019.

The evidence portion of the inquest concluded today with jurors hearing from former staff sergeant Damon Werrell, who determined that Hope’s arrest was lawful but couldn’t confirm whether or not policy was followed during a strip search.

Werrell also telling of The Major Crime Unit examining the case, to determine any potential negligence either from police or the person who sold or gave Hope the drugs.

He said he spoke to then constables Anderson, Peddle, and Vanhie who said the search was done according to policy under the circumstances.

Werrell also revealing new details that provided insight as to who Hope was.

The former sergeant said he spoke to both Hope’s mother and father, who revealed that the young woman was a mother of two children aged five and three.

Hope’s father telling Werrell that her death was not unexpected given her lifestyle. The family will not be attending the inquiry, and have also declined to submit a statement on her death.

Yesterday, Forensic Toxicologist Graham Jones testified that she had a high concentration of meth that caused ‘severe toxic effects’ to her system with the amount totalling 4.80 milligram per litre, according to the toxicology report.

The drug is believed to have seeped through a plastic bag that Hope concealed internally while being held in a Dawson Creek prison.

The bag and some scraps of the substance were found on the cell floor beside the mattress, according to the IIO report.

When asked if he could provide recommendations as to what the force could do better to prevent similar occurrences in the future, Werrell suggested that police be better trained on conducting strip searches through mandatory training either during ‘depo’ – the RCMP training academy – or with videos to refresh officer memory on a yearly basis.

That is in contrast to testimony by current Staff Sergeant Rob Hughes, who also testified today.

Hughes was questioned on the current state of training and policy on strip searches at the Dawson Creek Detachment, and said frankly, that he couldn’t make recommendations on a local level because federal policy is always changing.

The court was then dismissed as jurors were sent off for deliberation following four days of testimony from officers directly involved in the case, medical, and secuirty professionals. 

The proceedings are taking place at the Dawson Creek Supreme Court over the next two weeks.

The inquest is looking to determine the facts surrounding Hope’s death, and make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances.

CJDC-TV will continue to follow the inquest, and provide updates on the deliberations.