Gardaí are treating the attack on a 34-year-old inmate at Mountjoy Prison who died in hospital last night as murder.
Robert O’Connor from Snowdrop Walk, Darndale in Dublin, was attacked in his cell on Friday evening and sustained serious head injuries.
He was taken to the Mater Hospital and was being treated in intensive care.
O’Connor had been in custody since last October, but was sentenced for firearms offenses two days before the fatal attack.
The Prison Service expressed its sympathies to his family, and said it, along with the Inspector of Prisons, will carry out investigations to assist gardaí.
The attack on O’Connor only lasted a number of seconds, and prison officers were quickly on the scene, but he had already sustained serious injuries.
Gardaí said they are keeping an open mind on the motive and are investigating whether the attack could be linked to a drug debt, an earlier row within the prison or the foiled gun attack for which O’Connor had been jailed.
We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
An incident room has been set up and a family liaison officer has been appointed, while gardaí are also awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination expected today.
They have interviewed a number of people in the prison, but believe prisoners are unlikely to co-operate.
They have secured CCTV footage of the area and the clothes they believe the suspects wore, while four men have been isolated within the prison.
A forensic examination of the landing and cell has also been completed.
Executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust Saoirse Brady said that violent deaths in prison are a very rare occurrence.
“While deaths do occur in custody, it’s very unusual for it to be a violent death like this,” she said.
Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, Ms Brady said: “In this particular case, without going into the details, it’s been reported that there wasn’t a perceived threat.”
She said that there are currently more than 500 prisoners on what is deemed a “restricted regime” for protection reasons and this involves remaining in a cell for upwards of 19 hours a day.
Figures from April showed that 575 prisoners were in this type of protective custody, 563 of these had requested it.
“Where any death happens in custody, there are a number of people who need to be notified and the Inspector of Prisons is one of them, and they will carry out an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death.
“They’ll look at what care was provided by the Irish Prison Service.
“They’ll examine the operational methods used, what policies are in place and they also ensure that the prisoner’s family will have an opportunity to raise any concerns that they might have.
“And then also their investigation report will help the coroner’s examination into the death, but obviously, it’s a matter for the coroner to determine the cause of death.”
She said that very often when the Office of the Inspector of Prisons carries out an investigation of this kind, it can be years before it is published after being sent to the Minister for Justice.
“There is very often a delay in the Minister for Justice deciding to publish that report, so it could be months or even years before that is published.
“We would like to see a more timely publication of those reports because they make recommendations to the Irish Prison Service, they put in place an action plan and the Irish Prison Service has to respond to that as well and outline what actions it will take to ensure that lessons are learned and that similar incidents don’t happen in the future.”
The Irish Penal Reform Trust has called for an action plan to implemented in relation to deaths in custody to prevent another tragic situation happening.
O’Connor had been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison.
He had pleaded guilty after he was caught with a loaded semi-automatic pistol and a magazine with three more rounds in Dublin last year.
A threat assessment was carried out in Mountjoy and he was initially moved from one part of the prison to another after an issue arose.
O’Connor expressed no fears for his safety and was not put in protective custody.
The Irish Prison Service can confirm that the prisoner who was seriously injured in an incident in Mountjoy Prison on Friday 29th July 2022 has died.
We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
The incident continues to be investigated by the IPS and the Gardai.
— Irish Prison Service (@IrishPrisons) August 3, 2022
#Gardaí #treating #Mountjoy #inmate #death #murder