Prisoner dies in cell from intoxication of alcohol, diazepam and heroin, inquest hears

Prisoner dies in cell from intoxication of alcohol, diazepam and heroin, inquest hears
Mountjoy Prison

A convicted killer who died after drinking hooch was heard singing in his prison cell, an inquest heard, writes Louise Roseingrave.

Douglas Ward, an inmate at Mountjoy Prison in Dublin was serving a ten year sentence for the manslaughter of Niall Dorr in Dundalk on October 13 2010. 

Mr Ward was convicted of the offence after the court heard evidence that he repeatedly kicked his victim in the head, while out on bail.

Mr Ward, from Knockbridge, Co Louth, was found unresponsive in his cell at 6.30am on the basement floor of the prison on May 8 2015. 

The man's nephew Leonard Ward, also an inmate, spoke to his uncle shortly before lock-up at 7.30pm the previous night.  "He was buzzing. He was shouting 'Yee-ha! I'll be drunk tonight.' I shouted back save me some of that hooch. Later I heard him shouting 'Tiofaidh ar la' and singing,'" he said in his deposition. 

Prison Officer Shane Horgan said he saw nothing to indicate Mr Ward was 'under the influence of anything.' "With hooch - the prison term for alcohol - you have a distinct smell and I didn't get the smell of any alcohol. "Hooch would be a homemade form of alcohol. It is present in the prison, it is produced but it's prohibited," Mr Horgan said. He said it is common for prisoners to keep plastic bottles in their cells for water.  Douglas Ward was checked through the night every hour by prison staff.

At 6.30am Prison Officer Horgan noticed the prisoner did not stir when he knocked. He brought two more prison officers to enter the cell. 

"When you went in you could get a smell of the alcohol hooch," Mr Horgan said.

"I saw vomit coming from his mouth and all over his shoulder." Mr Ward was cold, pale and unresponsive. He was pronounced dead by Dr Edward Cox at 8.56am.

The cause of death was intoxication with alcohol, diazepam and heroin, according to an autopsy.

Mr Ward had a blood alcohol level of 244 milligrams per cent. Gardai removed a number of 'empty and partially full' bottles from his prison cell. Garda Patrick Dunne said the bottles were not sent for testing but 'smelled very much of alcohol.'

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure and recommended that prison authorities report all minor concerns noted on routine cell checks. 

More in this Section

More than 500 patients waiting for beds in Irish hospitals More than 500 patients waiting for beds in Irish hospitals

Gardaí resume questioning of man, 28, in relation to attempted ATM theft in CavanGardaí resume questioning of man, 28, in relation to attempted ATM theft in Cavan

Brexit and the backstop: Key questions about Boris Johnson’s letter to Donald TuskBrexit and the backstop: Key questions about Boris Johnson’s letter to Donald Tusk

Average of 129 motorists have cars clamped in Dublin every dayAverage of 129 motorists have cars clamped in Dublin every day


Lifestyle

It’s 100% better than takeout.How to make Jamie Oliver’s veggie pad thai

The Hunger is billed as an opera, but its composer, Donnacha Dennehy, prefers to call it a “docu-cantata”.The Hunger: Appeals to God and for pity in this clash of two linguistic worlds

We take a trip down memory lane and check out what happened on this day in years gone by by looking back at some Irish Examiner front pages and highlighting other events which went down in history across the world.August 21, 2019: A look back at what happened on this day in years gone by

For this year’s sausage survey we focused on a high proportion of meat. It had to be over 65% — a substantial sausage that would barbecue well in summer, but that also could be simmered gently in a tomato sauce for 15 minutes to make a quick meal — this way, sausages don’t have to be grilled/fried first.Summer bangers: The top 8 meaty sausages

More From The Irish Examiner