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Noongar man who died in prison asked for heart medication and was refused - advocates, family

Rhiannon Clarke -

This report contains the name of an Indigenous person who has died.

A 41-year-old man who died in prison in Western Australia last week asked for his heart medication before his death, advocates and family members said on Monday.

Wayne Ugle died in Hakea Prison on November 6 after experiencing heart problems while at Perth's Watch House. Advocates say that his pleas for medication were ignored.

Mervyn Eades, who has spoken to other inmates present at the time, said Mr Ugle's death was preventable and represented a failure of duty of care by three departments.

"This was a preventable death, he had a heart condition and he asked for his heart medication," Mr Eades said.

"We have spoken to other inmates that were at the watch house at the time and we have statements from them saying that he was in a very bad way and he was calling out for help.

"There are three government departments involved in this - the Courts, the police at Perth's watch house, and the prison - how could someone needing heart medication fall through the gaps at three different government departments."

Mervyn Eades said Wayne Ugles death could have

been preventable. (Image: Rhiannon Clarke.)

Mr Eades, on behalf of the Ugle family, called for an independent inquiry.

He said that more than three decades on from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, preventable deaths in prisons must stop.

Mr Eades stressed the need for a thorough investigation into workplace safety, and also called for the involvement of the Corruption and Crime Commission.

Natasha Ugle, the wife of Mr Ugle, said he was a devoted father to their three children and six foster children.

"I believe my husband would be alive today if the WA police and the corrective services had done their job properly and if the magistrates had just given him bail but they didn't," she said.

"They failed Wayne and now we have another grieving Noongar family. When will this end?," she said.

"Wayne had a heart condition. He told the police about it at the watch house and he told the guards at Heaka and I called them also.

"I called the police and they said they will give me a call back, I never received a call back."

One of Wayne's sons who was visibly emotional

(Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

Ms Ugle said she has spoken to witnesses who said her husband was pleading for medical aid while in the watch house and in Hakea.

According to the witnesses, Mr Ugle was openly discussing his medical condition and expressing a desperate need for assistance. He was experiencing hyperventilation, excessive heat, and profuse sweating.

"My husband had the right to live and he had the right to be safe and I have the right to demand justice for Wayne," said Ms Ugle.

"The government's responsibility is to hold people and assist them accountable when they take a life, so what are we doing about it?

"I demand the coroner investigate my husband's death and hold accountable the people that let him die.

"I demand that workspace invest in my husband's death immediately. I wanna see the CCTV footage of my husband in police custody and in prison."

Ms Ugle called for the provision of culturally sensitive and medically appropriate care from Aboriginal community-controlled services for Indigenous people in custody.

Ms Ugle received the news of her husband's passing some ten hours after his death.

Wayne was a devoted father and a loving husband (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

"It was disrespectful and hurtful, we had finally got an official call out at 7pm Wayne had passed away at 10:30 that morning," she said.

"There is a crisis in this state there is a death after death in custody and the government doesn't seem to care, I want real justice for the life of a real man with nine kids, a wife and a house that's worth something.

"I'm going to continue to fight until we live in a country where Black lives matter."

A spokesperson for the WA Department of Justice said the Department is "unable to comment at this time as the death is subject to a Coronial investigation".

A WA Police spokesperson told National Indigenous Times that "although the matter is still being investigated, WA Police can confirm that Mr Ugle was seen by a registered nurse and was extensively monitored while in Police custody".

"As the matter is now subject to a coronial report, we are unable to make further comment," they said.

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