Thursday 23 November 2017

Investigation into how violent inmate got knife used in fatal prison stabbing

Graham Johnson, who was murdered in a prison kitchen
Graham Johnson, who was murdered in a prison kitchen
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

GardaÍ and Prison Service officials are investigating how an inmate with a history of violent behaviour obtained a knife before fatally stabbing another prisoner.

Graham Johnson (41) suffered a fatal stab wound to his chest, and a minor slash wound to his throat, before prison staff were able to separate the two men at 5pm on Saturday in Cork Prison.

Mr Johnson was subjected to the assault after a minor disagreement earlier about a TV remote control.

Last night, prison sources told the Irish Independent that both men had been working in the kitchen when the row broke out.

"There is a television in the kitchen area - we understand a fight broke out over what channel the lads wanted to watch while working.

"Both of these guys would have been considered trusted inmates and would have been given a job in the kitchen as a result. It is a very sought after position. A kitchen knife was the weapon used."

Tragically, the victim - who was serving a four-year sentence for theft - was scheduled to be released in just four weeks.

Johnson, who was from Bandon in west Cork, had told prison officials he planned to rebuild his life having received help for a serious gambling problem while in custody.

He was described by prison sources as "a model prisoner" and someone who "wouldn't hurt a fly".

The incident, which occurred near the prison kitchens, was stopped by prison staff, but not before the man had sustained critical injuries. No prison officers were injured.

The entire incident lasted only a matter of seconds.

Emergency medical treatment was provided for the injured inmate at the scene. However, he died before he could be transferred by ambulance to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Johnson suffered a significant chest injury as well as major blood loss. A full post-mortem examination was scheduled to be carried out last night at CUH by the State Pathologist.

The other inmate suspected of being involved in the attack, a man in his early 30s, has been moved to a secure holding cell. He has a history of violence and is serving a sentence for a serious assault. One of his previous offences included an assault with a weapon.

The man, who is from the south-east, is described as being extremely volatile.

A number of other inmates witnessed the fatal attack and were said to be deeply shocked.

Johnson received a prison sentence in November 2011 from Cork Circuit Criminal Court for a series of thefts related to personal gambling problems.

He was a chronic gambler whose addiction issues began when he was aged just 14 years.

He was sentenced to five years, with the final 12 months suspended, after he pleaded guilty to stealing more than €19,000. Johnson stole €1,620 in cash, €1,500 in gold jewellery and €1,500 in cheques from a Mallow goldsmiths in April 2011. He also pleaded guilty to stealing €3,000 in cash and €12,000 from a development firm in west Cork where he was working. The latter incidents occurred in 2007.

Irish Independent

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