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Ashley Smith inquest appears to be back on track

TORONTO — The long-delayed inquest into the prison death of a deeply troubled teenager finally appeared to be on track Tuesday amid unprecedented signs of co-operation by prison authorities and doctors who had been fighting tooth and nail to limit their exposure.

Instead of the legal wrangling that has become the defining hallmark of the probe into the death of Ashley Smith, the parties spent a few hours in rare agreement before proceedings were adjourned until the new year.

Richard Macklin, a lawyer for Ontario’s child and youth advocate, said Smith’s family had been on a “litigation caravan” for two years that finally ended with the screening of disturbing jailhouse videos late last month.

“We’re seeing the co-operation that flows from the shining a light on the videos relating to Ashley Smith,” Macklin said.

“All of a sudden, when we finally succeed on the video issue, the house of cards collapses.”

Among other things, the jailhouse videos showed authorities duct-taping a hooded, docile Smith to her airplane seat and injecting her against her will with tranquilizers.

Smith, 19, of Moncton, N.B., died in her cell at the Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont., in October 2007 after wrapping a strip of cloth around her neck.

Guards who were ordered not to intervene stood watch outside her cell.

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