Saturday 25 March 2017

Half of prisoners who need medical help refuse it - inquest hears

Paschal Doyle
Paschal Doyle

Louise Roseingrave

Half of prisoners requiring medical assistance refuse treatment, an inquest into the death of an inmate at Mountjoy Prison heard.

Paschal Doyle (31) a father of four from Pollarton in Co Carlow, died on July 26, 2014. He died due to the inhalation of gastric contents, due to obstruction of the small bowel by a small package of drugs he had swallowed.

Prison Officer Terry Goodson said he was tasked with organising an escort to transfer Mr Doyle to the Mater Hospital hours before he died. The prisoner refused and then signed a ‘half-sheet’ to confirm his refusal on the night of July 25 2014.

Around 3.30am the next morning, he was found unresponsive in his cell.

“I got a half-sheet, gave him another opportunity. If at that stage he had indicated he wanted to go we would have brought him. That’s the procedure,” Mr Goodson said.

Under questioning, Mr Goodson said roughly half of all prisoners opt out of medical treatment in hospital.

“It’s around fifty-fifty whether it’s taken up or not,” Mr Goodson said.

“Sometimes, if treatment stops their high, they don’t want to do. Sometimes they can’t be bothered. We can’t make (them) go,” he said, adding that prison officers are not made aware of personal medical issues. “It’s none of our business,” he said.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that the prison was down more than 40 staff members on July 25th, 2014, as Mr Doyle waited in the prison reception area to be transferred to hospital. The escort was deferred until the evening due to another emergency, by which time the prisoner refused to go.

Mr Doyle, who was serving a five month sentence, was attacked by fellow prisoners twice in the days leading up to his death. CPR was performed on Mr Doyle in his cell but Nurse Officer Siobhan Cotter said he was unresponsive when leaving her care. He was transferred to the Mater Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Garda Francis Sweeney said toxicology analysis revealed the package blocking Mr Doyle's bowel contained heroin, cannabis and a small number of tablets.

Mr Doyle was seen swallowing something he claimed was a sweet while under escort at a court appearance in Carlow fifteen days before his death. The inquest at Dublin Coroner's Court was adjourned to conclude on May 30 with evidence from one additional prison officer.

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