Belfast Telegraph

Disabled inmate: I'm insulted by apology

By Donna Deeney

A disabled man who was denied all medication and forced to crawl up flights of stairs during the four days he was imprisoned for non-payment of motoring offences has described an apology he received as insulting.

The treatment of Harry Arbuckle — who cannot walk without an aid and needs to take 13 different tablets for a range of medical complaints — during his stay in Maghaberry prison last March is to be investigated by the Prison Ombudsman.

Mr Arbuckle is a recovering alcoholic and has a badly damaged spine, stomach ulcers and is constantly in extreme pain.

He could not afford to pay the £300 motoring offences which date back to 2007, which meant he was forced to spend time in Maghaberry prison.

But instead of being immediately transferred to the hospital wing, Mr Arbuckle had to crawl up stairs to a prison cell which did not have any disability facilities, including shower or toilets.

Despite being seen by two nurses from the Southern Health Board — which told the Strabane man that they would take his medication to the hospital wing and assured him he would be moved there — this did not happen. Mr Arbuckle did not receive his medication, nor was he given his Alcoholics Anonymous literature.

The acting Governor of Maghaberry, Austin Treacy, sent a letter of apology to Mr Arbuckle but failed to accept blame.

Speaking to the North West Telegraph, Mr Arbuckle said: “I was treated like an animal. It was four days of pure hell. Now the Governor says they were not aware I was disabled. It is disgusting and insulting. He suggests my medication was the responsibility of the Southern Health Trust.”

The prison declined to comment.

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