A man who was facing a murder charge when he hanged himself in a courthouse holding cell had instructed his solicitor to draw up his will, an inquest heard.
Shane Rogers (32) from Deery's Terrace, Inniskeen in Co Monaghan died after hanging himself following a remand hearing at Cloverhill Courthouse on December 20, 2011.
He had been charged with the murder of Crossmaglen GAA player James Hughes (35) in a shooting incident in Dundalk, Co Louth, nine days earlier.
Mr Hughes had been socialising with Patricia Byrne (21) earlier in the night.
Mr Hughes was shot in the quiet Cluain Ard, Lis na Mara housing estate, in Dundalk, Co Louth on December 11, 2011.
His solicitor Martin Crilly told Dublin Coroner’s Court that when he spoke to Mr Rogers after he had been charged on the evening of Monday, December 12, his client was “very distraught and very obviously suicidal”. Mr Rogers told him that he intended to kill himself at the first opportunity.
“All he wanted to talk about was that his funeral expenses would be paid for,” he said. Mr Rogers asked him to draw up a will. “I explained that he was more or less giving me a suicide note, which was causing me a lot of difficulty,” said Mr Crilly.
He said that Mr Rogers was very concerned that his remorse be conveyed during his first appearance at Dundalk District Court after being charged.
The inquest had previously heard that Mr Rogers told several people that he intended to take his own life but denied this when assessed by medics at Cloverhill Prison where he had been placed on remand. However, he was being held in the vulnerable wing of the prison due to ongoing concerns for his safety.
On the morning of his death, Mr Rogers was taken to Cloverhill Courthouse, which is adjacent to the prison, for a remand hearing.
He was transferred into the custody of the Prison Service Escort Corp (PSEC). Assistant chief officer George Finglas said that “at no stage” when he took custody of Mr Rogers did anyone inform him that he was a “vulnerable or suicidal prisoner”.
Had he known, he would have given Mr Rogers priority in order to return him to the prison as quickly as possible, he said. He knew that the dead man was being held in the vulnerable wing but said that prisoners could be there for a number of reasons.
A number of the officers giving evidence said that they were unaware of a 2007 directive that all prisoners in PSEC’s custody should be checked every 15 minutes. Mr Rogers was last checked 50 minutes before PSEC officer Shane Moran found him hanging in his cell.
The post-mortem carried out by state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis who gave the cause of death as hanging. Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that Mr Rogers would have been rendered unconscious immediately.
Cloverhill Prison governor Ronan Maher said that a number of issues raised by Mr Rogers’ death have been addressed including the creation of two anti-ligature holding cells and better communications between the prison and PSEC.
The inquest was adjourned to December 13 to hear further evidence.