Delayed report on 2006 prison death ‘by end of year’

The report of a seven-year inquiry into the savage death of a prisoner, which has been dogged by delays and obstacles, will be sent to Justice Minister Alan Shatter by the end of the year.

The State commission was set up following outrage at the death of Gary Douche in Mountjoy Prison at the hands of Stephen Egan in Aug 2006. The probe has continued despite its chairwoman, Gráinne McMorrow SC, not being paid by the Department of Justice for three years, between Jan 2010 and Jan 2013.

Ms McMorrow got an interim, partial payment in January, but is still owed the bulk of her salary and has not been paid since.

“We will have the report wrapped up and delivered to the minister by the end of the year,” Ms McMorrow told the Irish Examiner.

The inquiry was established in 2007 but has been beset by delays, including difficulties accessing information from parties and Egan’s trial and appeal, which ended in Oct 2010.

Ms McMorrow said she completed a draft report of 500 pages in Mar 2012, copies of which were sent to all relevant people. “New evidence came to light which had to be resolved, as it conflicted with other evidence and we had to hold new hearings,” she said.

“The commission had sought this information and this evidence as far back as 2007, 2008 and 2009, but was not delivered until last year.”

Under Commission of Inquiry legislation Ms McMorrow is obliged to consult relevant people when changes are made to her report. This substantially delayed the inquiry.

Egan punched and stamped Mr Douche to death in a packed cell in Mountjoy, before rubbing excrement on his face.

Liam Herrick of the Irish Penal Reform Trust said the delay in the investigation was a “matter of grave concern” and responsibility for resourcing the inquiry “lay solely with the Government”.

“We’ve always had confidence in Gráinne McMorrow,” said Mr Herrick. “She has taken a very thorough approach and has gone to great lengths to involve the family.”

The Department of Justice refused to comment.

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