Thursday 23 November 2017

Mother of prisoner who died after assault in Mountjoy settles High Court case for €3k

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Tim Healy

THE mother of a prison inmate who died weeks after he was assaulted by another prisoner in a row over a TV remote control has settled her High Court action against the State for €3,000.

Father-of-one, David Byrne, who was serving a six months in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin for theft, was hit over the head with a sock containing two batteries by an inmate who thought he had taken the TV remote control.

Byrne was taken to hospital but later brought back to prison.

The 29-year old was found unconscious in his cell the following morning. He remained in a coma for 25 days in hospital where he passed away on July 3, 2009.

On Friday, the High Court was told the case had been settled for a very modest sum of €3,000 after an expert report showed there was no intelligence among prisons staff that Mr Byrne was under any threat from other prisoners.  It also found there was no evidence Mr Byrne was anything but a normal type of prisoner.

Mr Byrne's mother, Margaret Byrne , Mariners Port, Sheriff Street, Dublin, had sued the State over the assault.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to prevent Mr Byrne from being assaulted and an alleged failure to take appropriate precautions to protect persons at or in the prison.

The claims were denied and it was contended there was no delay in coming to Mr Byrne's assistance. It was also denied the assault was foreseeable.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross sympathised with Mrs Byrne but said if the case had gone to trial it would not have been successful.

Six years ago, Alan Smith (34) of Ballybough House, Ballybough Road and Buttercup Park, Darndale, both Dublin, pleaded guilty before the Central Criminal Court to the manslaughter of Mr Byrne.

That court heard on the evening of June 3, 2009, Smith hit Byrne over the head with a sock containing two batteries because he thought the victim had taken the TV remote control.

Byrne was seen by a nurse in a hospital  A&E but insisted on being brought back to prison. He also declined to see the prison doctor.

He was found unconscious in his cell the following morning. He remained in a coma for 25 days in the neurosurgical unit of Beaumont Hospital, where he died on July 3.

Mr Justice Paul Carney, who suspended the last three years of Smith's sentence, said matters would probably have turned out differently, had David Byrne not insisted on rejecting medical attention.

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