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Prisoner left in cell with dead man for 16 hours

A PRISONER in Mountjoy jail was traumatised after he was left to spend 16 hours in a cell with a corpse.

The 26-year-old was serving a sentence in the prison when his cellmate died and nobody removed the body for hours.

An account of the gruesome incident was given to a District Court appeal against a sentence handed down to the man.

William Baker succeeded in having a sentence for motoring offences suspended, after his lawyer told of the effect the prison death had had on him.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard he had been "distressed" by the incident.

Baker, who has more than 60 previous convictions, was charged with driving without insurance, a licence or road tax in an incident in Crumlin in March 2008.

The father-of-one, of Foster Terrace, Ballybough had an existing sentence increased from four to six months, but suspended for a year. Judge Terence O'Sullivan also reduced a driving ban he had been given from 30 to eight years.

The court also heard Baker had been upset at missing his child's ninth birthday because he was in custody.

He signed a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for that time. Judge O'Sullivan queried if he would have to sign the bond before the prison governor.

The accused's lawyer replied that if his client was not of good behaviour, it would affect his release date.

Fewer than 10 people die in custody in Mountjoy every year, which is considered low by international standards.

However, it is not the first time a body has gone undiscovered for many hours.

In 2004, a young man who suffered from epilepsy and had a history of psychiatric illness died in a Mountjoy Prison cell on his first night at the jail and was not discovered for up to 12 hours after his death.

Sean Dinnegan (34) of Canal Avenue, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, had informed medical staff at the prison that he had not been taking his prescribed medication for epilepsy and was drinking heavily when he was assessed as a new committal at Mountjoy.

However, Dinnegan was not seen by a doctor and the following morning his dead body was discovered on the floor of his cell.

At the time of his inquest, Dublin City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell, said he was satisfied that industrial action which the prison doctors were engaged in at the time of Dinnegan's death had not impinged in any way on the situation.