14/12/2006

Ombudsman to investigate prisoner's death

The prison Ombudsman is to investigate the death of a prisoner who was found dead in his cell in County Londonderry.

Thomas Mackenzie Quinn, 45, from Belfast was found dead in Magilligan Prison yesterday afternoon. He was serving six years for robbery.

A report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owens and the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland Kit Chivers said that inmates at Magilligan felt that they were more unsafe there than they did two years ago, including two thirds of vulnerable prisoners.

The report also called for the prison to be rebuilt due to the poor condition of the buildings.

Ms Owens and Mr Chivers report also found that while there was a lot of good work going on in some of the specialist units at Magilligan, there was practically no personal officer work taking place in other parts of the jail.

It also reported how inmates had little confidence in the complaints system.

Northern Ireland Office Prisons Minister Paul Goggins said the government was aware of the need for a new prison building, however funding would have to be found.

Tom Woods, the governor of Magilligan Prison welcomed the publication of today's report and added that it highlights the work carried out by staff at the prison and also points out the areas which could be improved on.

(EF)

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