Investigation launched into Mountjoy prison death

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell today announced that a Commission of Investigation is to be established into the death of Gary Douch, who died following an attack on him while he was a prisoner in Mountjoy prison on August 1, 2006.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell today announced that a Commission of Investigation is to be established into the death of Gary Douch, who died following an attack on him while he was a prisoner in Mountjoy prison on August 1, 2006.

It will be independent with full statutory powers to investigate the matter and to take sworn evidence. The Commission is expected to report before the end of this year.

This action follows the recent receipt of the report of Mr Michael Mellett into the matter. Mr Mellett, a former senior civil servant of the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform was appointed in August last year by the Tánaiste to inquire into the incident and to make any findings and recommendations he saw fit.

The Tánaiste said the report had identified a number of shocking aspects.

"There are serious implications for the future management of our prisons," said McDowell. "It is now clear that a review going beyond the scope of the Mellett investigation’s terms of reference is warranted.

"A detailed sworn inquiry is now essential. The issues are matters of public importance and the Government has agreed to my proposal that a statutory commission of investigation be established."

The Tánaiste is constrained from releasing details of Mr Mellett's report because of ongoing criminal proceedings against an individual who has been charged with causing the death of Mr Douch.

McDowell confirmed that significant failings had been identified and serious questions raised that will have to be addressed by the Commission of Investigation, but refused to pre-empt any findings that the Commission might make.

He has written to the mother of Gary Douch, apologising for the fate of her son and advising her of the establishement of the Commission.

The Commission, to be headed by Ms Gráinne McMorrow, S.C., will be established under the Commissions of Investigation Act, 2004.

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