Jobs Events Advertise Newsletter

Inquest set to begin into death in custody of 22 year-old Noongar man Ricky-Lee Cound

Giovanni Torre -

More than two years after his death in custody, an inquest will begin on Monday into the passing of Ricky-Lee Cound.

 

The Noongar man was only 22 years old when he died in Hakea Prison in Western Australia in March 2022.

Mr Cound had strong connections to his family and community and was known for his "big, bright, cheeky smile, skilled artistry and playful sense of humour"
.

 

Ricky-Lee had contact with the Western Australian correctional system from the young age of 11, and had dreams of becoming a youth worker to help young people get their lives on track.

In March 2022 he had been transferred to Hakea Prison and placed on a specific At-Risk Management System (ARMS) used for monitoring inmates at risk of self-harm and suicide.

 

Ricky-Lee Cound’s mother, Laura Cound, had begged prison authorities to arrange an Aboriginal Visitor Scheme participants to visit her son out of concern for his risk of self-harm.

Only hours before he died, prison officers and healthcare staff determined that Mr Cound was no longer considered as at risk of self harm or suicide.

Ricky-Lee had
asked to be placed in an observation cell but was not moved. A number of other inmates called officers, asking them to check on Mr Cound, but he died alone in his cell from a suspected suicide on 25 March, 2022.

Laura Cound with a photograph of her son Ricky-Lee Cound. Image: National Justice Project.

 

 

Ms Cound is now seeking justice and accountability.

 

“My son cried out for an observation cell on the day he died, but this fell on deaf ears," she said on Friday.

"The conditions our mob are put under within the criminal system—the lockdowns, confinement and lack of mental health care— it’s like putting petrol on fire. I want answers, I want justice for my son.”

It was revealed shortly after Ricky-Lee's death that
Western Australia's Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services had recommended the expansion of CCTV and body-worn cameras for guards at Hakea Prison multiple times before he passed.

Also, Aboriginal community leaders and family of inmates had also called for improved transparency and establishment of a wellbeing hotline at WA's Acacia Prison, where Mr Cound was held before Hakea, in February 2022.

The National Justice Project, who is working with Ricky-Lee's family, said he deserved culturally safe care and adequate mental health support.

 

Project chief executive George Newhouse said Mr Cound's passing was "yet another terrible death in the WA prison system".

"Ricky-Lee’s family have been through two years of distress and trauma and are urging the Coroner to properly examine not just the death but wider systemic issues. These include how we can provide culturally safe care and support inside prisons, how mental health treatment should be delivered and how we can reform the whole prison system. Otherwise more young men will continue to die and more families will suffer," he said.

   Related   

Outback ceremony confirms native title for NT station
In a riverbed adjacent to an outback homestead, a Federal Court judge has delive...
Abe Maddison 25 May 2024
Barry Cable charged with historical sex crimes against underaged girl
Western Australian police have charged disgraced former North Melbourne and WAFL...
Dechlan Brennan 24 May 2024
Victorian Police Chief Commissioner makes "long overdue" apology for police role in Stolen Generations
Victoria Police chief commissioner Shane Patton has made a personal apology, and...
Jarred Cross 24 May 2024
Anniversary of the killing of Noongar leader Midgegooroo acknowledged by the City of Fremantle
The City of Fremantle lowered flags to half-mast this week as part of its truth-...
Rhiannon Clarke 24 May 2024

   Giovanni Torre   

Waanyi Garawa Gudanji woman Lizzie Hogan steps up for NT seat of Barkly
The Waanyi-Garawa-Gudanji woman Lizzie Hogan will run for the NT seat of Barkly...
Giovanni Torre 24 May 2024
Advocates urge Queensland spit hood ban as inquest into death in custody hears final witness
After over one month of hearings, on Tuesday the inquest into the death of mothe...
Giovanni Torre 21 May 2024
Exclusive: Board of leading WA native title group asks regulator to appoint special administrator
The board of a leading native title body in Western Australia’s Kimberley region...
Giovanni Torre 21 May 2024
Indigenous education peak body alliance welcomes federal commitment to community-controlled sector
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Corporation (NATSIE...
Giovanni Torre 20 May 2024