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Northern Ireland prison gets reprimand after death of prisoner

Health standards at a Northern Ireland jail have been criticised following a report into the death of a prisoner who caught legionnaires' disease.

Investigators criticised the prison service for failing to deal properly with the deadly bug which entered the water supply at Magilligan.

Already terminally ill, inmate John Russell died after catching the pneumonia-like bacteria at the Co Londonderry jail in February 2007.

Yesterday the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland ruled that the code of practice for controlling the pollution of water systems had not been followed.

Louis Burns, head of HSENI's major investigation team, said: “The system for managing health and safety at HMP Magilligan had not been effective in controlling this well-known risk. The standard was far below what is appropriate for a prison.”

Legionnaires' disease is a type of lung infection. The major source is water distribution systems in large buildings.

Tests were made after the dying inmate tested positive for Legionella bacterium.

At a crown censure hearing at HSENI's headquarters yesterday, the Northern Ireland Prison Service accepted the reprimand, though stressed that there were mitigating factors and explained the action it had taken to prevent a recurrence across its estate.

Belfast Telegraph

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