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Friday 13 December 2019

Murder probe launched after prisoner (37) found choked to death in cell

Mark Lawlor was found dead in his cell at Cloverhill Prison. Photo: Collins Courts
Mark Lawlor was found dead in his cell at Cloverhill Prison. Photo: Collins Courts
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Gardaí investigating the death of an inmate in Cloverhill Prison have launched a murder enquiry after a post-mortem revealed he had met a violent end.

Mark Lawlor, from Belclare Green in Ballymun, Dublin, is believed to have been choked to death in a cell in the west Dublin remand prison.

He was sharing a cell with one other person and the alarm was raised shortly after midnight in the early hours of Saturday by other prisoners on the same landing who heard a disturbance.

Prison staff found Lawlor unresponsive and paramedics were called to the prison.

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Efforts to resuscitate him failed and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A man in his early 50s has since been arrested and was last night being questioned at Clondalkin garda station.

A post-mortem was carried out on Lawlor's body by State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster and gardaí have said the results would not be released for operational reasons.

However, they confirmed the arrested suspect was detained on suspicion of murder.

It is understood the suspect had been detained in Cloverhill on charges of alleged criminal damage.

Lawlor (37) was on remand on theft charges.

Gardaí are looking into the history of the victim and the man who is currently being questioned about his death.

But sources said the arrested man had no previous prison terms served as far as records showed, and there was no indication that he had the potential for such violence.

"It's not clear if there was history between the two men, but it seems unlikely. It could be a very recent row or argument that sparked this. It could be something very trivial," said a source.

Lawlor had been in Cloverhill Prison only for a little over a week when he was choked to death.

Ten years ago, he was sentenced to four years with one year suspended after pleading guilty to harassment of a garda because she told him there was not enough evidence to prosecute over his claims that he had been sexually abused as a child.

He had repeatedly tried to contact Sergeant Noleen McKenna and threatened her by quoting the names of well-known criminals.

Gun

On one occasion, he said he would shoot her if he had a gun, his trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told.

Lawlor, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar depression, had 49 previous convictions at that point.

The harassment took place between August 18 and October 6, 2008.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said all practicable measures were taken by management and staff to ensure the safety of people in custody.

"However, regrettably no prison system can be completely free of violence and inter-prisoner assaults do occur," they added.

Irish Independent

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