Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of David Anthony RICE

Inquest into the Death of David Anthony RICE

Delivered on : 14 November 2019

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Jenkin

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : At the time of his death, the deceased was being held in custody on remand at Hakea Prison. The deceased died on 19 August 2015 at Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) from multiple injuries, he was 49 years of age.

On 19 August 2015, the deceased was a member of a work party tasked to clean units at Hakea Prison. Unwanted items from these units were loaded into a large truck and taken to the Prison’s Industries Service Yard (Yard), where they were unloaded and placed into storage.

At about 12.30 pm, a Vocational Services Officer (VSO) was instructed to drive the truck back to the units to collect more unwanted gear and rubbish. The size of the truck meant that the VSO had to perform a three-point turn in order to drive it out of the Yard. The VSO was having difficulty reversing the truck into the loading dock and the deceased, who was in the Yard with two other prisoners, offered to help. The deceased walked to the rear of the truck to guide the VSO.

The VSO slowly reversed the truck and did not see the deceased in the vehicle’s side mirror. After reversing a short distance, the VSO considered he had enough clearance to drive forward and complete the three-point turn. As the VSO moved the truck forward he turned the steering wheel to the left causing the rear of the truck to swing to the right. A spilt second before the truck moved forward, the deceased suddenly appeared at the back of the truck on the driver’s side. He became pinned between the rear of the truck and the wall of a coolroom in the loading dock.

The VSO moved the truck out of the way and the deceased fell to the ground. Prison officers and medical staff gave the deceased first aid and he was taken to FSH by ambulance. The deceased died at FSH as a result of his injuries.

Since the deceased’s death, a number of infrastructure and policy changes have been made at Hakea Prison. These changes are aimed at reducing the likelihood of a critical incident involving vehicles.

The Coroner found that the deceased should not have been permitted to assist the VSO as a spotter and should not have been allowed anywhere near the truck as it reversed. With the exception of this lapse in supervision, the Coroner found that the supervision, treatment and care provided to the deceased during his incarceration, was otherwise adequate.

Catch Words : Death in Custody : Procedure and Policy Improvement :Accident.

Last updated: 2-Dec-2019

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