The South West Nova Correctional Facility in Yarmouth. CARLA ALLEN PHOTO
By Tina Comeau
An investigation is still underway after a 44-year-old offender at the Southwest Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Yarmouth committed suicide in his cell.
The man was discovered in his cell just before 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18. The RCMP, the Medical Examiner Service and the Department of Justice have all been involved with the investigation. A news release issued by the justice department pointed out that foul play was not suspected in the man’s death.
This is the first suicide to have occurred at the jail since it opened in April 2004.
The offender – whom sources have identified as Robert Keith McCully – was on remand at the jail on charges relating to an alleged armed robbery targeting the Cash Store in Conway, Digby County in mid-December.
He was scheduled to be back in Digby provincial court on Tuesday, Jan. 24 for the continuation of his bail hearing. Instead Crown attorney Rosalind Michie, the Crown attorney involved in the matter, said this court date would be used to formerly have the charges dismissed.
In the event of the death of an accused person, the charges have to be brought before a judge to have them formerly dismissed.
McCulley, who resided in Plympton, was charged following an alleged Dec. 12 robbery. The police accused McCully of being the man who entered the Cash Store in Conway with a hammer, while wearing a wig and demanding money.
In the days following the man’s death the Department of Justice would not confirm the offender’s identity as it had not yet made contact with the man’s next of kin.
But the province’s justice minister did offer condolences.
"I extend my sincerest sympathy to the family," said Justice Minister Ross Landry.
Dan Harrison, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, said at the correctional centre rounds occur every 30 minutes to check on offenders. All of the people housed at the jail are in single cells.
An autopsy was ordered, which is mandatory in a case such as this. The Department of Justice has been awaiting information from the medical examiner before releasing further information.
An investigation report that will be completed about the death will be made public said Harrison.
Staff and other offenders at the jail were said to be quite shaken by the incident.
The Department of Justice says when there is a death in an institution, the staff on duty at the time are relieved of their duties and are offered counselling if they wish. There is also a program available for offenders.
(With files from Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier)