Prison Service to up security over Scissor Sister pictures
Published 23/08/2008 | 00:00
THE Prison Service announced strict new security measures last night as controversy continued to rage over leaked photographs of Scissor Sister Charlotte Mulhall wielding a knife in jail.
Airport-style security measures, including walk through detectors and X-ray scanners will go into operation within weeks at Mountjoy's Dochas Centre, where Mulhall was pictured holding the knife to a male inmate's throat.
All prisoners, visitors and staff coming into the prison will have to pass through the new detectors, with all handbags, briefcases and clothing becoming subject to screening.
The new security measures will commence on September 4, and will be additional to the use of sniffer dogs, which are already being deployed.
Mulhall (26) -- serving a life sentence after murdering and chopping up the body of her mother's lover -- was transferred to Limerick Prison and an investigation was launched after the mobile phone photographs were published on Wednesday.
The pictures were taken despite an unprecedented crackdown on the use of mobile phones by inmates in Irish jails.
Prison Service director general Brian Purcell said last night that initial inquiries had ascertained that the photographs were taken over a year ago when Mulhall and the other inmate pictured, Denis Gibney (40), were working in the prison kitchen.
Mr Purcell said a full security audit of the Dochas Centre would be conducted shortly as part of a rolling programme of security reviews.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern remained silent about the controversy last night despite repeated demands from an outraged Opposition for a full statement on the debacle.
A spokeswoman for Mr Ahern said he was not commenting and that the issue was being dealt with by the Prison Service.
Fine Gael described the incident as a "major embarrassment" for the Government.
The party's justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan said: "Prisoners are holding up two fingers to the criminal justice system and these pictures show that prison security is a shambles".
He added: "It beggars belief that a convicted knife murderer would be allowed access to a potentially lethal kitchen knife".
Labour justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte questioned: "How is it that a prisoner convicted of a particularly gruesome murder was apparently in possession of what appears to be a potentially lethal knife?"
Mulhall is serving a life sentence for the murder of her mother's boyfriend, Kenyan man Fareh Swaleh Noor.
Her sister, mother-of-four Linda, was jailed for 15 years for Mr Noor's manslaughter.
The sisters, from Kilclare Gardens in Tallaght, Dublin, both lost appeals against their convictions. During their trial, it emerged Charlotte Mulhall stabbed Mr Noor up to 20 times with a kitchen knife, while her sister Linda Mulhall admitted hitting him "a good few times" on the head with a claw hammer at a flat in Ballybough, Dublin, in March 2005.