By Seán McCárthaigh
A prisoner found dead in his cell in Cork Prison last year was facing sentencing for serious criminal offences.
A report by the Inspector of Prisons into the death of the 22-year-old man on April 13, 2017, revealed that he had been convicted of a number of serious charges at the Central Criminal Court a month earlier. He was due back before the Central Criminal Court, which deals mostly with cases of murder and rape, on May 15, 2017.
The report by acting inspector, Helen Casey, said the deceased had been placed on a restricted regime, involving being locked in his cell for 23 hours daily, a month before his death for his own protection. She reported that there had been conflict between him and other prisoners due to the nature of the charges facing him.
The prisoner, whose identity was not revealed, had been committed to Cork Prison on January 12, 2017, in relation to other less serious offences with a release date on November 6 last.
The deceased, who came from the Munster region, is survived by his mother, brothers, sisters, partner, and daughter.
The report said he had been transferred between Cork Prison and the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise on a number of occasions to facilitate court appearances and was due back in the Midlands Prison on the day after his death.
The man’s partner said she had visited him on the day before he died and reported that he had given no indication of thoughts of self-harm during the visit.
His mother said her son had no history of self-harming or of depression or psychiatric illness. Both women said they had been unaware before his death that serious charges had been pending against him.
CCTV footage showed that the prisoner had been checked by prison officers in his cell on 15 occasions in the eight hours before he was found in an unresponsive state in his cell. The report said prison staff had responded promptly when the alarm was raised.
Ms Casey said the cause of the prisoner’s death was a matter to be determined by the coroner.