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Probe launched to find out how killer prisoner got knife in jail house row


Cork prison

Cork prison

Graham Johnson

Graham Johnson


Cork prison

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

Graham Johnson (41) suffered a stab wound to his chest and had his throat slashed before prison staff could intervene and separate the two men on Saturday afternoon in Cork Prison.

Johnson was subjected to the unprovoked attack after a minor disagreement earlier about a TV remote control.

The victim, who was serving a four-year sentence for theft, was scheduled to be released in four weeks' time.

Johnson, who was from Bandon, west Cork, had told prison officials he planned to rebuild his life after receiving help for a serious gambling problem.

Saturday's incident is said to have lasted only a few seconds, and no prison officers were injured.

Both inmates were working near the kitchens as trustees, or prisoners who have earned special privileges due to good behaviour in custody.

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

The other inmate involved, a man in his early 30s, has been moved to a secure holding cell.

Forensic experts conducted a detailed technical examination of the scene.

In the interim, special operational measures remained in place at Cork Prison.

A post mortem was scheduled to be carried out last night at CUH by State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy.

The prisoner suspected of having carried out the attack is serving a sentence for a serious assault. He is also a chronic drug addict.

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.

Cork is considered to be one of the least violent prisons in the State.

Statements are now being taken from the prisoners at the scene and from prison officers who intervened.

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

He 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 only 14.

He was handed a five-year prison term, with the final 12 months suspended, after he pleaded guilty to stealing €19,000 to feed his gambling habit.

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.