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Sunday 21 September 2014

Brutal jail killing could have been avoided, inquiry finds

Tom Brady, Security Editor

Published 02/05/2014 | 02:30

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The mother of a prisoner who was killed in his cell by another inmate has spoken of her devastation after a report found that failings in the prison service were to blame.

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A commission of inquiry concluded that the death of Gary Douch could have been avoided, but acknowledged that it would be unfair to regard the tragedy as being caused by one person or service.

Douch was killed on July 31, 2006, when he was brutally assaulted by Stephen Egan in a cell at Mountjoy jail, in front of five other inmates.

Last night Douch's mother Margaret Rafter said she was still completely devastated by the unlawful killing of her son and would never get over the appalling circumstances of his death.

But she also said her "heart goes out" to the mother of Egan, as he was not properly monitored or provided with medication despite suffering from severe mental illness.

"My son's death was a preventable tragedy, as the report pointed out repeatedly.

"It should never have happened," she said.

She called on Justice Minister Alan Shatter and the Government to implement all of the recommendations so that no mother or family had to face the same pain.

"That is the only legacy I want for my son, that his death was not in vain and that his report will change forever the way prisoners are looked after and kept safe."

She said Gary had died in the most appalling circumstances.

"They all dropped the ball, the system did not work, and all of them let my Gary down."

The commission found that Douch's death was due to an avoidable "systems" failure, compounded by the non-compliance with or disregard for some of the prison rules, orders and policies.

This was found to be the norm rather than the exception.

It said the authorities at Mountjoy and Cloverhill jails at the time must bear considerable responsibility for what had tragically taken place – as their systems had failed to identify and appropriately manage Egan's risk to others. The report outlined how Douch (21) had been sharing a cell on July 31, 2006 but asked to be moved to a "protection" wing because he feared he was going to be attacked.

He was transferred to a basement cell, sharing it with Egan and five others.

His unconscious body was found by prison officers the following morning.

In April 2009, Egan was convicted of manslaughter, due to diminished responsibility. He was later sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mr Shatter has since issued an apology to the dead man's family on behalf of the State and the Irish Prison Service.

Irish Independent

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