Please note: This story contains reference to someone who has died.


A NSW Corrective Services officer has been charged with manslaughter for the 2019 death in custody of Wiradjuri man Dwayne Johnstone.

Johnstone was killed on March 15, 2019 at Lismore Base Hospital in New South Wales.

Johnstone, 43, attempted to run from two correctional officers whilst handcuffed and was allegedly shot in the back by a corrections officer. He was treated at the hospital but died shortly after.

NSW Police said a 57-year-old man presented to Lismore Police Station on Friday and was served a court attendance notice for the offence of manslaughter.

Johnstone’s family and the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT welcomed the decision.

Johnstone’s partner Kirsty Pepper, his father George Johnstone and stepmother Jenny Johnstone remembered their family member.

“Dwayne was a much-loved partner, son and stepson,” they said.

“The many people who loved and cared about him are pleased to see some accountability today for his untimely death. We thank everyone who has been involved in getting to this point.”

“We will forever remember Dwayne as a funny, bubbly rascal who was a family man at heart. He absolutely adored his partner Kirsty and would go out of his way to help people. He loved animals, enjoyed fishing, and lived life to the fullest.

“Anyone who met Dwayne would never forget him. He was always happy and shared that joy with others. We are doing our best to hold onto that joy every day.”

Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT CEO Karly Warner marked the day as an important moment in history.

“The Aboriginal Legal Service welcomes the historic news that a Corrective Services Officer has been charged with manslaughter over the death of Aboriginal man Dwayne Johnstone,” Warner said.

“This is an important step in the administration of justice.”

“More than 430 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody since the Royal Commission almost 30 years ago. While the majority of recommendations from the Royal Commission go unimplemented, we continue to see tragic and preventable deaths, including Dwayne’s.”

Warner noted that the ALS and its allies will continue to call for justice.

“Aboriginal people and justice advocates have long called for independent investigations of deaths in custody, transparency and accountability,” she said.

“We stand by Kirsty, George and Jenny, whose love for Dwayne and hunger for justice continues to be evident throughout this long process.”

The NSW Corrective Services officer will face Lismore Local Court on March 29.

By Rachael Knowles