Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Tragedy sparks call for action on drugs in jail

Father of four Alan Ruddy was a sentenced inmate at Mag haberry Prison when he was found dead in his cell following an accidental drugs overdose on January 31, 2008.

The 29-year-old died after taking a cocktail of prescription and illegal drugs that had been smuggled into the jail, according to an investigation by the Prisoner Ombudsman.

Drug abuse in Northern Ireland’s jails has long been a major problem for the Northern Ireland Prison Service and, following the publication of yesterday’s report, Prisoner Ombudsman Pauline McCabe has called for a review of the Prison Service’s action plan to minimise the supply of drugs within its establishments.

Ms McCabe said that Mr Ruddy had not intended to take his own life but had “inadvertently overdosed by taking a large number of non-prescribed pills of unknown origin which combined with his prescribed medication to produce fatal effects.”

Mr Ruddy had a history of mental health problems and was suffering from epilepsy and depression. He was known to be a heavy drinker and also took illicit drugs. He had also been taking medication prescribed by his GP.

Nine recommendations have now been made by the Ombudsman including healthcare arrangements upon committal to prison and a comprehensive audit of the Prison Service’s action plan to to minimise the supply of drugs in jails.

Prison Service director Robin Masefield said that following Mr Ruddy’s death the Prison Service brought forward improvements to tighten systems and to minimise the supply of drugs within prisons.”

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