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Prison mole in text tip-off

A PRISON 'mole' tipped off inmates to planned raids by text message.

The warning was sent from a phone at Wheatfield Prison to the Dochas Centre in Mountjoy. The message warned inmates that searches were about to be carried out. "It [the text message] gave the date and time of the searches and obviously sparked off another operation," a prison source said.

The two days of searches, backed up by sniffer dogs, had been ordered after revealing photos of two prisoners in the women-only centre appeared last week.

A text message, which was identified as coming from another prison, warned the women in the Dochas to be on the alert as a search was imminent and that they should get rid of any contraband immediately. Prison sources indicated that the message was sent from Wheatfield Prison as the raid was about to get underway on Monday morning. The focus switched to Wheatfield where efforts were made to establish the source of the tipoff.

An internal prison service enquiry is ongoing. It is not clear if the information came from a “mole” working within the prison system or if the information was gleaned by an inmate simply as a result of loose talk among staff. The initial raids were ordered by a furious jail governor Ned Whelan after revealing photos of convicted killer Lindsey Fahy and Limerick drugs convict Kim Fahy appeared in a Sunday newspaper.

The two had been sending raunchy mobile phone pictures from inside the jail offering the photos for cash, including simulated lesbian sex acts. They offered phone chats about lesbian sex romps, in exchange for phone credit and sexy underwear. The security clampdown - dubbed “Operation Lesbo” by staff - came as both women were dispatched out of Dublin to Limerick. In August 2009, Lindsey Fahy (26) was sentenced to seven years in jail with three years suspended for the manslaughter of 31-year-old taxi driver, Mark Smith.

But in February 2010 the DPP appealed the leniency of this sentence, and it was amended to seven years with one year suspended. Her former partner Carlos Byrne (23), who stabbed him around 40 times at Fortlawn Blanchardstown on March 18, 2008, was jailed for life for his murder. Kim Fahy from Limerick is serving a three year sentence on drugs charges.

CRITICISM

The new revelations came as the Dochas Centre comes under increasing criticism. Staff claim there are insufficient staffing levels while overcrowding and drugs are on-going problems. “Phones and other contraband are coming in wholesale, mainly over the wall - there are no nets in this area,” said one.

The spotlight fell on the jail only weeks after the independent Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, pulled no punches with his criticism of the way it is being run. He claimed it was the policy of the Irish Prison Service to “maintain the Dochas both in the short term and the long term as an overcrowded prison with all the negative aspects that that brings with it”.


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