Man charged with GAA player's murder hanged himself in cell
THE inquest into the death of a man facing a murder charge who took his own life in a courthouse holding cell could not establish where he found the ligature he used to hang himself.
The jury returned a verdict of suicide at the inquest into the death of Shane Rogers (32), from Deery's Terrace, Inniskeen, Co Monaghan.
Mr Rogers was found hanging in a cell at Cloverhill Courthouse on December 20, 2011, following a remand hearing.
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.
Dublin Coroner's Court previously heard that he told gardai and family members he planned to take his own life in the days after he handed himself in at Carrickmacross garda station.
When he was remanded to Cloverhill Prison he was placed in a wing for vulnerable prisoners under special observations and given prison-issue clothing.
On the final day of the inquest, Garda Shane Fox, who carried out an analysis of the ligature, said that on the balance of probability it was more than likely a cord from a hoodie.
The dead man's brother, David Rogers, told the court that he had packed a navy holdall with clothes including a hoodie and brought it to Carrickamacross garda station. He said that his brother was wearing the hoodie at Dundalk District Court when he was remanded to Cloverhill Prison.
Mr Rogers was wearing his "court wrap" when he went to the courthouse on the day of his death. The inquest heard that this is the same clothing he was wearing on arrival at the prison on December 13.
Governor Ronan Maher said CCTV footage shows he was not wearing a hoodie on arrival. A hoodie was, however, logged in the contents of the navy holdall. Mr Rogers would not have had access to the bag, he said.
When asked by coroner Dr Brian Farrell if it would be possible to secrete a cord on entry into prison, Mr Maher said the prison only carries out external searches. Mr Rogers had access to the hoodie prior to his arrival at prison, he said.
Mr Maher said that prison records showed that the navy bag was given to gardai but not signed for. Barrister for the family, James McGowan, said the record before the inquest only refers to the court wrap being collected by gardai. Mr Maher conceded that the hoodie and the navy holdall could not be accounted for.
Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said the jury could accept that, on the balance of probability, the ligature used was a cord from a hoodie but the evidence is "silent" on how the dead man came to have it.
It is also not possible to say precisely which hoodie the cord came from, he said.
He told the jury that there was no question of third party involvement in the death and it is plain from the evidence that Mr Rogers took his own life.
In addition to the suicide verdict, the jury made a number of recommendations including the setting up of a national authority to oversee the development of standards in prison.