Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of David Arthur RICE

Inquest into the Death of David Arthur RICE

Delivered on : 5 October 2022

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Jenkin

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Summary : Mr David Arthur Rice (Mr Rice ) died on 21 January 2021 at Fiona Stanley Hospital from comlications of acute brinchopneumonia.  At the time of his death, Mr Rice was a sentenced prisoner and was 75-years of age.

Mr Rice had an extensive criminal history, and on 1 May 2020, in the District Court of Western Australia at Perth, he was convicted of numerous child sex offences and sentenced to 11 year’s imprisonment.

Mr Rice had been a heavy smoker and drinker and his complex medical history included serious heart issues and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Although Mr Rice was regularly seen in prison medical centres, he often declined recommended diagnostic tests and/or specialist referrals, and he was often non-compliant with prescribed medication.

In 2020, Mr Rice was admitted to hospital on several occasions and diagnosed with heart failure and exacerbation of his chronic COPD.  He was also treated for a blocked artery in his leg.

On 3 January 2021, Mr Rice was at Osborne Park Hospital undergoing rehabilitation, when he experienced severe abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, and faecal incontinence.  He was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where he was diagnosed with urosepsis, bowel obstruction and gout.  Although surgery was initially considered for his bowel obstruction, because of the very high risk of complications (including death) it was decided to manage Mr Rice conservatively and he was returned to the infirmary at Casuarina Prison on 22 January 2021.

At about 7.50 am on 23 January 2021, a Code Red medical emergency was called after Mr Rice fell in the Casuarina Infirmary and was found semi-conscious under his bed.  Emergency services were called and Mr Rice was taken to FSH by ambulance.  A chest x-ray showed consolidation within his right lung, possibly due to aspiration, and he was diagnosed with right-sided pneumonia and septic shock.  Mr Rice was transferred to the intensive care unit, but at about 1.50 pm, he went into cardiac arrest.  Despite resuscitation efforts, he could not be revived and was declared deceased at 2.10 pm.

The coroner was satisfied that Mr Rice was appropriately managed and supervised whilst he was incarcerated and further, that the treatment and care Mr Rice received in prison was reasonable, and may have exceeded the standards of care he would have received had he been in the general community.

Catch Words : Death in Custody : Natural Causes

Last updated: 19-Dec-2022

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