An inquest into the death of an Indigenous man in NSW custody in Tamworth has heard the young father was distressed to be separated from his cellmate on his last night in remand.
Tane Chatfield died in September 2017 after being held on remand at Tamworth Correctional Centre for two years pending the outcome of an armed robbery trial.
An inquest is examining the death and began in Sydney on Monday morning before the NSW Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame.
The 22-year-old attended court in Armidale but was returned to Tamworth after the first day's hearing on September 19.
Darren Brian Cutmore had been Mr Chatfield's cellmate in the preceding days but was moved to a different cell that night as the pair were co-accused.
Cutmore told Ms Grahame that Mr Chatfield was on the way back to Tamworth from court "happy as can be" as he was confident of being acquitted.
But Mr Chatfield's former cellmate, who considered himself an "older brother" to the 22-year-old, could still remember his reaction when he realised the pair were to be separated later that night.
"He was very upset ... he said 'all we've got is each other and now they've f***ing taken that away from us too'," Cutmore told the inquest.
Cutmore also said that while the pair had often used drugs in prison together, he did not think Mr Chatfield did so on the night of September 19.
"Usually me and him used drugs together ... and I don't remember using drugs that night," Cutmore said.
Ms Grahame began the inquest on Monday by acknowledging the "profound grief" suffered by Mr Chatfield's family and offered her personal condolences to the man's mother.
"As a parent myself I can hardly imagine the grief that you have gone through," she said.
NSW Corrective Services at the time said Mr Chatfield's death was not suspicious, telling his family he took his own life.
Mr Chatfield died after two days at Tamworth Base Hospital on September 22, 2017.
The inquest resumes on Tuesday and is set to run until Thursday.
Australian Associated Press
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