Saturday 20 January 2018

Family of suicide prisoner call for inquiry into his death

Shane Rogers, pictured at a fancy dress party as a postman
Former Crossmaglen GAA player James Hughes, who was fatally shot
The coffin of murdered Crossmaglen GAA star James Hughes is carried through Crossmaglen, Co Armagh

THE family of a remand prisoner found dead in a holding cell have called for an ombudsman-style inquiry into his death in the interests of other vulnerable inmates.

Shane Rogers was found hanged in Cloverhill prison complex on Tuesday after admitting killing Crossmaglen GAA star James Hughes following a row over his ex-girlfriend.

He had been on suicide watch.

His mother and father Margaret and Sean have asked lawyers to write to justice minister Alan Shatter and request an independent inquiry.

"Our request for an inquiry is not intended to deflect from the pain and suffering being endured by the Hughes family and friends," the couple said.

"The last thing we would want to do would be to deepen the Hughes family's grief.

"We are aware that a Garda investigation and an internal prison investigation are being carried out but we consider that a fully independent inquiry should be established by the minister similar to those carried out by the Garda Ombudsman's office.

"We wish to emphasise that we feel that such an investigation is necessary in this case not only in the interests of Shane but in the interests of other prisoners who are vulnerable."

Rogers, 32, of Deery Terrace, Inniskeen, Co Monaghan, was involved in a row with Mr Hughes before he killed him with one of his legally held firearms in the early hours of Sunday December 11.

He had twice punched Mr Hughes, All-Ireland club medal-winning captain of Crossmaglen Rangers, from Co Armagh, after seeing him with his ex-girlfriend Patricia Byrne in a Dundalk nightclub.

The couple had split up less than a fortnight earlier.

Mr Hughes was shot and died while Ms Byrne and taxi driver Anthony Callan were injured when Rogers opened fire after the cab pulled up outside her Dundalk house.

At his first court appearance, the judge ordered psychiatric assessment after a garda warned he was suicidal.

Under prison rules he should have been monitored closely by officers and checked every 15 minutes.

Rogers was found dead in a holding cell near tunnels linking the Cloverhill courthouse to the prison in west Dublin around lunch time on Tuesday.

His funeral takes place on St Stephen's Day at the Church of Mary, Mother of Mercy, in Inniskeen.

Liam Herrick, Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), said two questions must be asked - were procedures followed and what were the procedures.

"On the wider issue, there is a duty of care on the prison service to take the necessary action to prevent harm or injury in custody," he said.

The Rogers again extended their sympathy to the Hughes family.

"We know that Shane was deeply sorry over what happened," they said.

"He showed absolute remorse over the death of Mr Hughes and the injuries to Ms Byrne and Mr Callan.

"Shane would have done anything to undo the harm that he had done. Our deepest sympathies are with the Hughes family.

"We would like to wait until after Shane's funeral to issue a fuller statement but at this stage we would like to ask the media to respect our privacy at this time."

Press Association

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