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Family of Perth man who died in custody demands justice

Aaron Bunch -

The grieving family of an Indigenous man who died in custody allegedly while begging for medical help is calling for answers and justice.

Father of three Wayne Ugle, 41, died in his cell at Hakea Prison in Perth seven days ago while on remand for minor charges.

His distraught wife Natasha Ugle says her husband was a very sick man who suffered from a serious heart condition that required medication.

"He told the police about it in the watch house and he told the guards at Hakea about it and I called them too," she told reporters on Monday.

"He kept begging for his medication ... and other people in the cell with him were telling the guards that he needed to see a doctor or go to a hospital."

Mrs Ugle said other prisoners observed that her husband "was hyperventilating and the sweat was pouring off him".

"He should have been put in an ambulance immediately and sent to a hospital instead of prison," she said.

"I believe that my husband would be alive today if the West Australian police and Corrective Services had done their job properly.

"But they didn't, they all failed Wayne and now we have another grieving Noongar family. When will this end?"

Mr Ugle's family has called for the release of the CCTV footage of Mr Ugle's time in the watch house and prison.

They also want Worksafe to investigate the incident, along with a coroner, and culturally appropriate medical care to be made available for Aboriginal people in custody.

"I (also) want to know why it took Corrective Services 10 hours to notify me of Wayne's death when my relatives in Acacia Prison and in Sydney knew at least 4 hours earlier," Mrs Ugle said.

"It was disrespectful and hurtful."

Mrs Ugle said her husband had a right to be safe from harm in custody and the people responsible for his death should be held accountable.

"I'm going to keep fighting until we live in a country where Black Lives Matter," she said.

Premier Roger Cook said he was not aware of any actions that could have stopped Mr Ugle's death.

"I do know, however, that there will be a full inquiry, as there always is by the coroner, to make sure we understand the full situation," he said.

The Department of Justice previously said prison officers and medical staff attempted to revive Mr Ugle but they were unsuccessful and he was declared dead at the scene.

Preliminary reports indicate Mr Ugle, a mine worker suffered a medical episode and police were preparing a report for the coroner.

Hakea Prison, at Canning Vale in Perth's south-eastern suburbs, is a maximum security prison for men who have been remanded in custody while waiting to appear in court.

Lifeline 13 11 14

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

Aaron Bunch - AAP


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