Two Indigenous senators claim they were snubbed from meeting with Hakea Prison’s superintendent to probe the recent death in custody of 22-year-old Noongar man Ricky Lee Cound.

WA Greens Senator Dorinda Cox and Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe said they had arranged to meet with Hakea’s superintendent through his executive assistant, but when they reached his office they were made to wait and ultimately refused a meeting.

The Department of Justice disputed this, claiming the senators had been told a meeting could not take place prior to their arrival.

“There are established protocols for any members of parliament wishing to attend Departmental facilities,” the spokesperson said.

“The senators arrived at the prison without the requisite approval.

“As such, a meeting couldn’t take place and the senators were advised of this.”

The spokesperson said the senators had initially refused a request to leave the prison.

Ms Thorpe, a DjabWurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman, said the senators had been lied to.

“We went through the process and his secretary told us come and meet and then when we arrived, he told us he didn’t want to meet us anymore,” she said.

“When a 22 year-old boy takes his life in this prison and we respectfully asked to meet the superintendent to get answers to questions his mother has been asking… that young man came out in a body bag and he should have come out to meet his family.

Ricky Lee Cound.

“No justice, no peace, and we had the police called on us to get us to leave the prison. Two Black senators. That is an absolute insult.”

A WA Police spokesperson said police attended due to protest activity outside the prison, believed to be Mr Cound’s mother Laura Cound, not to escort the senators.

Ms Cound had been waiting outside the prison with two of her daughters and Mr Cound’s partner, Bethaney McShane.

Ms Cox said the senators were told upon arrival by the superintendent they did not have authority to be in the prison.

“One of the guards was filming me on his own mobile phone, not a body-worn camera,” she said.

“I asked why was I being recorded when that cell wasn’t being recorded when a young man died. Then he stopped filming.”

Ms Cound said the onus was on Hakea’s superintendent to come out and talk to her family.

Ricky Lee Cound’s mother Laura Cound at Hakea Prison.

“I asked this superintendent on March 12 to keep my son safe,” she said.

“He didn’t return my calls, they have got no shame.

“I rang the gate, I rang the Aboriginal Visitor’s Service, they said they would keep my son safe.

“I am here now planning my son’s funeral and it is killing me. It is killing my family.”

Ms Cound said she would keep returning to the prison until she got the answers she was looking for.

Police are currently investigating Mr Cound’s death, which will be subject to a coronial inquest.

  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • 13YARN 13 92 76