Wednesday 21 August 2019

Jailed sex offender suffered a blow to head before death

Sean Leamy was found unconscious in his cell
Sean Leamy was found unconscious in his cell
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A sex offender found dead in his prison cell may have died violently, a report by the Inspector of Prisons has found.

Judge Michael Reilly highlighted several concerns about the death of Sean Leamy, ­including the failure of prison staff to preserve the scene.

He also found management at the Midlands Prison did not exercise the duty of care that would be expected when they moved the 61-year-old into a cell with a much younger inmate.

The cell mate (31), ­considered a "volatile ­prisoner" with a ­conviction for false ­imprisonment, had set up a makeshift still in the cell to distil illicit "hooch".

Leamy, a graveyard ­caretaker from Tulla, Co Clare, was ­serving a six-year sentence for sexually assaulting young boys between 1978 and 2005.

He was also serving a ­concurrent two-year sentence over a "graves for sale" scam in which he failed to pass on to Clare County Council more than €20,000 in plot fees he received from grieving families.

Gardaí investigated Leamy's death two years ago, but it did not result in any prosecution.

According to Judge ­Reilly's ­report, the deceased suffered head injuries which were not self-inflicted. A coroner ­concluded he died from cardiac arrest precipitated by blunt force trauma to the head and trunk.

Leamy was found unconscious in his cell at 7.15pm on February 12, 2013. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

According to the report, Leamy, who was in poor health, had been accommodated in a single cell, but was transferred to a double cell in another wing of the prison against his wishes. The move saw him paired with the 31-year-old inmate on January 26 - just 17 days before his death.

The deceased was a non-­smoker and a non-­drinker who ­suffered from asthma, but his new cell mate was a chain-smoker and a known "hooch-maker".

On the day of Leamy's death, CCTV footage showed ­numerous prisoners visiting the cell, apparently to drink hooch.

Leamy's body was discovered after a prison officer became suspicious. A makeshift still and two sticks were also recovered.

The judge found the scene may have been contaminated between the time the body was found and the time ­gardaí ­arrived. No Prison Service ­personnel were deployed to preserve the scene.

Judge Reilly ­recommended that ­elderly and long-term ­prisoners should get single cells, and said prison governors must be aware of their legal obligations to protect the health of prisoners.

In a statement, Justice ­Minister Frances Fitzgerald said steps had been taken to address Judge Reilly's concerns.

Irish Independent

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