A coronial inquest has been told a suicidal inmate of Yatala Labour Prison hanged himself with a canvas smock, despite being under constant surveillance.

Mark William Payne, 28, had a history of depression and threats of self harm at the time he was arrested for trespassing and breaching bail in May 2011.

An Adelaide inquest was told Payne was refused bail at a court hearing in June 2011 and put in a cell with constant video monitoring.

Within hours he hanged himself using his prison-issue smock.

The inquest was told video footage was only monitored for five minutes of every half hour for each cell.

Payne's mother Pamela gave evidence she had not been allowed to speak with her son after the court hearing.

She was adamant she could have prevented him from self-harm had she been allowed to see him.

"He was short-tempered and if things didn't go right he did lose his temper, but never any harm," the inquest heard.

"He had a lot of friends. Wherever he would go people just seemed to like him.

"Mark was in denial that he had any sort of depression ... he was always like 'I'm OK Mum'. When he wasn't taking his medication he was paranoid. He was very depressed, he was just withdrawn into himself."

Courtroom signs

Mrs Payne said she was particularly concerned for her son's welfare after he was refused bail on what ended up being the day of his death.

"This was a young man so full of confidence whose life had gone to ruin. I'd find him sitting on a doorstop, huddled in a corner," she said.

"I told his lawyer I needed to talk to him. I knew he was going to do something. He came into the courtroom smiling because he thought he was going to be coming home, but when he left he wouldn't even look at me and I thought he was going to do something."

Mrs Payne said she telephoned Yatala and asked to speak with her son.

"I told them, you need to listen to him this time because if he says he's gonna do something, he'll do it," she told the hearing.

"He'd told me (previously) 'Mum, if they lock me up I'm gonna neck myself'."

The woman became tearful in the courtroom as she recalled the 2011 court hearing as being the last time she had seen her son.

That night two police officers arrived at her house to tell her of the death.

"I knew what they were going to tell me. I knew they would only be there for two reasons and if they were going to arrest him, I knew where he was," she said.

"If I could have spoken to him that night, I know I could have convinced him to hang on."

 

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