Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into Death of Van Tho NGUYEN

Inquest into the Death of Van Tho NGUYEN

Delivered on : 3 March 2022

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Deputy State Coroner Linton

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : On 10 January 2020 Mr Van Tho Nguyen died at Bethesda Claremont Private Hospital from metastatic lung cancer.  At the time of his death Mr Nguyen was a remand prisoner.

Mr Nguyen was born in Vietnam in 1960 and fought in the Vietnam War.  After the war he was sponsored and came to Australia.  He became an Australian citizen and lived for the rest of his life in Australia.  Mr Nguyen became involved in criminal offending and served time in prison between 2012 and 2016 and was released back into the community on 11 December 2016.

Mr Nguyen was a lifelong cigarette smoker.  In December 2018, while visiting family in Vietnam, Mr Nguyen was diagnosed with suspected lung cancer.  He immediately quit smoking, but his lung cancer was already advanced.  Mr Nguyen’s diagnosis was confirmed after he returned to Australia and he commenced to received chemotherapy treatment as an outpatient in the community under the care of medical specialists at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

In May 2019, Mr Nguyen was charged with new drug-related offences and bail was set, but Mr Nguyen was remanded in custody as he could not meet the surety condition.  He was housed at the infirmary at Casuarina Prison and his medical care for his cancer continued to be managed in consultation with his specialist at Fiona Stanley Hospital, including attending outpatient appointments at the hospital and a number of hospital admissions.

Despite chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, Mr Nguyen’s cancer spread to other parts of his body, and he became increasingly unwell.  In November 2019, Mr Nguyen indicated to his doctors that he no longer wished to pursue active treatment.  On 6 December 2019, Mr Nguyen was admitted to Bethesda Private Hospital for end of life care, where he remained until his death.

The Deputy State Coroner noted the Department of Justice took all necessary steps to provide Mr Nguyen with appropriate and timely medical care while he was held in custody. 

Catch Words : Death in Custody : Supervision, Treatment and Care : Pre-existing Terminal Illness : Natural Causes

Last updated: 4-Aug-2022

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