14/09/2016

Staff At Maghaberry Prison Watched As Prisoner Self-Harmed

Staff at Maghaberry Prison in Lisburn have been criticised after they failed to intervene while a prisoner blinded himself, according to a Prison Ombudsman report.

Sean Lynch, 23, was being detained at the prison in June 2014 and inflicted "extreme and shocking" injuries through self-harm over a three day period.

In June 2014, Mr Lynch made himself blind and extended a self-inflicted groin injury which was directly observed by prison officers.

Officers did not enter his cell to prevent him from self-harming further.

The report stated: "Their duty of care was trumped by security concerns that appear to have had little basis in reality."

Ombudsman Tom McGonigle has made 63 recommendations for improvement, of which 11 have previously been made to, and accepted by the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS).
News Image
Mr McGonigle said: "This dreadful sequence of self-harming highlights the challenges of caring for severely mentally-ill people in prison. The key messages from this investigation are the need for someone to take prompt and effective control when a prisoner/patient's mental health is deteriorating rapidly; and for improved assessment and information-sharing at the point when people go into prison."

Justice Minister Claire Sugden said: "This was an awful case for everyone concerned and I am deeply sympathetic to Mr Lynch and his family. 

"It is important to reflect on the independent assessment quoted in the Ombudsman's report which said Mr Lynch's condition was beyond anything that Prison Officers could cope with. While our Officers are trained to support and care for vulnerable prisoners, the Supporting Prisoner at Risk (SPAR) process was not designed to care for someone as challenging as Mr Lynch.

"There are significant issues to consider for both the Northern Ireland Prison Service and our health partners in the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust (SEHSCT). The report has made a number of recommendations for both organisations and we will work with SEHSCT to implement these to provide support for vulnerable prisoners."

(CD/JP)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

13 March 2020
RHI Report To Be Unveiled At Stormont
A report into the botched energy scheme that brought down Stormont's power-sharing Executive in 2017 is due to be published today. The findings of Sir Patrick Coghlin's Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) inquiry will be outlined at Stormont.
27 February 2020
Meet The NI Couple Transforming The Funeral Industry
A L'Derry couple has set out to transform the funeral industry by thinking outside the box. The death industry as it's cheerily known is not the most obviously appealing when it comes to career pathways, but 'death care tech' hopes to bring the age old sector right into the 21st century.
04 February 2020
'Smart' Loading Zones Prove Popular Across Belfast
A 'Smart Belfast' pilot project at two of the city's busiest hospitals is proving popular with drivers. Belfast City Council introduced the smart loading zone scheme in a bid to tackle urban transport delivery and parking challenges through the use of the PARKUNLOAD app.
22 January 2020
RNLI Launches Lifeguard Recruitment Drive
The RNLI is in search of new lifeguards to help ensure public safety across local beaches. Successful applicants will receive full world-class search and rescue training ahead of their season as a beach lifeguard, as well as good rates of pay and the chance to develop towards a future career.
31 August 2018
Man Dies In Maghaberry Prison
A 22-year-old man has died while in custody at Maghaberry Prison, the Northern Ireland Prison Service has reported. The Department of Justice has confirmed that the man died in custody on the morning of Thursday, 30 August. The man's next of kin have been informed. The PSNI, Coroner and Prisoner Ombudsman have been informed about the death.