Dean Eustice (1930-2003)

Dean Eustice, Dead in Adelaide, Australia; Security guard training questioned

Adelaide, South Australia: (August 20, 2004): A coroner has questioned the training of a shopping mall security guard who manhandled 73-year-old Dean Stanley Eustice, who died two hours later. South Australian Coroner Wayne Chivell recommended a review of security guard training after holding an inquest into the death.

On October 11, 2003, Dean Eustice and his wife Dawn, went to the Westfield Shopping Centre, located in Marion, a suburb of Adelaide. Mrs Eustice found a pink-coloured purse on the ground. Mr Eustice picked it up as there was nobody else in the vicinity. Mrs Eustice suggested to her husband that he should tell the person at the Information Desk and leave his name and number for the owner to contact them. Mr Eustice went to the Information Desk and Mrs Eustice went to Woolworths. She last saw him walking away from the Information Desk towards Big W. Mrs Eustice thought that her husband was going to collect some photographs that had been developed, and then to go to Bunnings, and then to meet her back in Big W.

Mr Eustice informed the attendant at the Information Desk that he had found the purse and was told that he should leave it there. He declined to do so saying that he wanted to leave his name and telephone number for the purse’s owner and walked away. Mr Eustice was followed by a Security Officer employed by Westfield Limited, Mark Steven Smith. Mr Smith followed Dean Eustice into Big W to the photographic area, and then out of the Centre where a “physical altercation took place during which it is alleged by several witnesses that Mr Eustice was manhandled”.

“Mr Eustice became agitated and eventually collapsed into unconsciousness,” It was reported that the guard had Dean Eustice in a headlock. Coroner Chivell said. Mr Eustice suffered a heart attack, was taken to hospital but attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. He died about two hours after the mall incident.

Mr Chivell said during the confrontation, Mr Eustice was called a “thief” by the security guard. “Mr Smith jumped to the conclusion that Mr Eustice was a thief because he refused to comply with the usual practice (of leaving found items at the information desk),” Mr Chivell said. “It is not my role to reach conclusions about whether Mr Smith’s actions towards Mr Eustice were lawful.

“However, I question whether Mr Smith has received adequate training to deal with this situation. “This was an unusual case in that Mr Eustice did not follow the expected pattern of behaviour and hand over the purse. “I think that it is fair to infer from the evidence that Mr Smith’s training did not adequately equip him to deal with that situation.”

Mr Chivell recommended the level of training to security guards be reviewed by Westfield Ltd and the South Australian government.The Eustice family’s lawyer submitted that the coroner should find Mr Smith’s actions were unlawful, dangerous, and had resulted in Mr Eustice’s death. However, Mr Chivell said he was prevented from making that finding by a section of the Coroners Act. Dean and Dawn Eustice had been married for 48 years. They had lived on Dunrobin Road, Warradale, a suburb of Adelaide since 1961. South Australia News; September 5, 2004 and other sources.