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Prison officer arrested after taking air gun and smoke grenade into jail

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A landing at Wheatfield Prison. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A landing at Wheatfield Prison. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A landing at Wheatfield Prison. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Gardai are investigating if a suspended prison officer has links to criminals within the jail system, the Herald can reveal.

The investigation centres around a bizarre incident last February when he was caught bringing an air gun and a smoke grenade into a jail.

The prison officer, who works at Dublin's Wheatfield Prison, was arrested by appointment last week by detectives from Lucan Garda Station under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act. After being questioned for a number of hours, he was released without charge and a file will now be prepared for the DPP.

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He has since been suspended from duty on full pay as gardai continue to carry out a major investigation.

The probe began almost exactly a year ago when he arrived for work at Wheatfield Prison and put a bag through an X-ray security scanner at the jail's screening area and the items showed up in his bag.

When he was asked why he had the items - which are not illegal to possess - he stated that he had them by mistake and that they were the property of a male relative of his.

He then left the prison and placed the items back in his car.

It is understood that the Dublin man then contacted prison authorities himself to explain what had happened.

Gardai in Ronanstown were immediately notified by prison authorities.

The officer's home was searched the same day and the items were seized by gardai.

A major investigation has been in place since then, which ultimately led to the prison officer's arrest last week.

He was suspended from duty within days of his arrest pending the results of the probe.

"The Irish Prison Service cannot comment on an ongoing investigation," a spokesman told the Herald last night.

Senior sources say that gardai have "serious concerns" about the bizarre incident last year.

"Yes, it is correct that these items which included an Airsoft pistol are not illegal to possess but these are items that could cause chaos in a prison environment.

"There are serious concerns about what happened last February and this man's arrest was no box-ticking exercise. This matter has been actively investigated for a year at this stage," a senior source explained.

The Irish Prison Service is currently in the final stages of completing a code of ethical behaviour for its staff.

Standards

In an interview with the Herald in December, the head of the Irish Prison Service director general Caron McCaffrey said: "The Code of Ethical Behaviour provides clarity around the values, professional practice and standards of behaviour which staff of the Irish Prison Service are expected to display on a daily basis.

"I do believe Irish Prison Service staff always adhere to the highest standards of behaviour and this was evident last October, when the CPT (Council of Europe anti-torture Committee) were fulsome in their praise and felt that there was a genuine concern in improving the lives of prisoners in our custody.

"This is a very positive endorsement on the work done by Irish Prison Service staff and is something we should be proud of."


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