A 22-year-old woman whose death is subject to an internal police investigation had spent two nights in a Pilbara lock-up for unpaid court fines before she died.
The woman, who The West Australian has not named in accordance with her family’s wishes, died in hospital on Monday afternoon after complaining to officers at South Hedland Police Station that she felt unwell.
The woman had been in custody since Saturday and although she died in hospital her death is being investigated as a death in police custody.
It is understood the woman was serving a warrant of commitment after she failed to pay court fines stemming from offences committed between 2010 and 2012.
She was due to be released on Tuesday.
A police media spokeswoman said the woman was taken to Hedland Health Campus on Saturday and Sunday after advising officers she felt unwell.
On both occasions hospital staff issued a certificate declaring the woman’s medical fitness to be held in custody and she was returned to the lock-up.
“On Monday … the woman again told police she was unwell and she was again conveyed to the Hedland Health Campus where her condition deteriorated and she passed away,” the spokeswoman said.
The woman’s father told The West Australian on Tuesday he had “no idea” what caused his daughter’s death.
“(Police) said they were doing an investigation and they would go through the cops here and the hospital, and find out what happened,” the father said.
“I have no idea what happened.
“She was in (lock-up) because of a breach of fines.
“She went in there to sort it out on Saturday and was supposed to be out (Tuesday).”
A flood of tributes have appeared on the 22-year-old’s Facebook page over the last 48 hours. One woman said her “heart shattered into a million pieces” upon hearing the news.
“I watched you grow from a beautiful baby to a gorgeous woman,” she wrote. “I never thought I would have to be writing to you to say goodbye.
“To know that I’m not going to see your beautiful smile or hear your voice truly saddens me.
“I will cherish the memories that I have and you will live on forever in our family.
“I love you my baby.”
Originally from South Hedland, the woman had more recently spent time living in Geraldton, Carnarvon and Broome.
A report will be prepared for the Coroner.