A London police officer told an inquest into the death of 55-year-old Mario Hamel that not checking on all prisoners every 20 minutes as required was a ‘lapse in judgement.’

Const. Brianne St. Clair admitted on Tuesday that while she reported performing complete cell checks, she had not done them.

Records showed St. Clair checked on Hamel on three separate occasions, all at times after he had died, but video evidence shows she did not.

Hamel died while in police custody in 2010, after hanging himself with his shirt in his cell. He was not found for another hour.

St. Clair testified that she forgot there was someone lodged in cell 18.

While the inquest has heard Hamel was not suicidal, and had talked about going to work the next day, he took his life just hours after being taken into custody for a liquor law violation.

Hamel’s step-daughter Yasmin Baksh says it has been tough for his family.

“It’s really difficult for my mom because of course that was her husband and losing hime like that, they had a great relationship. I knew him a lot. I was ten when they got married. So it’s hard to see my mom cry all the time and be hurt and alone now.”

She also believes his death could have been prevented, “If [St. Clair] had done her job right and did the cell checks every 20 minutes then she would’ve noticed that Mario was trying to harm himself or taking his shirt off or seen something and she could have stopped that.”

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit cleared London police officers of criminal wrongdoing in 2011, but since the incident a number of changes have been implemented.

That includes plexiglass covers on jail bars and security garments that make harming oneself very difficult.

They have also put an electronic checking system in place, requiring cadets to wave an electronic wand over multiple points in the cell area to ensure no cell, and no person is overlooked.

But London police say there is no provincial mandate on how often prisoners should be checked.

Medical testimony is expected as the inquest continues on Wednesday.