An insulin-dependent diabetic who was declared medically fit to be detained at the East Perth Watch House but died hours later had fluid in his chest, a laceration to his liver and bruising to the lumbar aspects of his body, a post-mortem examination has revealed.

Mr Woods, whose first name is not used for cultural reasons, died on March 14, 2010 after suffering cardio-respiratory arrest at the East Perth Watch House.

The WA Coroner is now investigating the quality of his supervision treatment and his care while in custody.

Mr Woods' daughter Phyllis described her father's appearance as that of a "dead man walking" in the hours before his arrest for breaching a violence restraining order, the Perth Coroner's Court was told today.

Opening an inquest into the father of four's death, Counsel assisting the coroner Jeremy Johnston said Mr Woods, whose past medical history included insulin-dependent diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, probable seizure disorder, alcohol dependence, was declared by two RPH doctors to be medically fit to be detained.

The inquest was told the cause of Mr Woods' death was unascertainable, but a post-mortem examination found he had pulmonary oedema, fluid in his chest cavity, a superficial laceration on his liver with blood stained fluid in the abdominal cavity, atrophy and fibrosis of the pancreas and bruising of the lumber aspects of the body.

"His tragic outcome was not predicted and could therefore not have been prevented," Mr Johnston said.

He said an issue Mr Woods' family would like examined was whether he had sufficient access to his medication.

Inspector Stephen Stingemore, who headed up the internal affairs unit which investigated Mr Woods' death, revealed one custody officer had failed to follow the appropriate guidelines for checking Mr Woods' cell after he failed to check whether Mr Woods was breathing.

It was 15 minutes after that last cell check that Mr Woods was found unconscious and "cold to touch", the court was told.

Inspector Stingemore said the officer had received a written reprimand, verbal guidance, retraining and has just recently completed his probationary period.

Inspector Stingemore revealed that at the time of Mr Woods' death, there was no formal diabetes training for officers working in the watchhouse and there were no special dietary requirements for diabetic prisoners.

The inquest continues.

The West Australian

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