Belfast Telegraph

Extra time for inmate suicide data

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has been given two weeks to hand over documents relating to the suicide of an alleged sex offender, a coroner's court has heard.

Nineteen-year-old Samuel Carson, from north Belfast, took his own life while in custody at Hydebank Wood young offenders centre in May 2011.

An inquest into the circumstances surrounding his death has been scheduled to start next February and will be heard before a jury.

At a preliminary hearing in Belfast's Mays Chambers, Coroner Suzanne Anderson was told the Prison Service needed a further fortnight to blank out sensitive information from the bundles of statements and documents yet to be disclosed to the Carson family legal representatives.

Lawyer for the Prison Service Nesa Murnaghan, said: "Considerable work has already been done.

"Another two weeks should enable the rest of the work to be completed."

Carson had been remanded in custody on charges of raping and sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl and making indecent images of a child.

Fionnuala Connolly, counsel for the Coroner's Service said: "The Prison Service has provided materials which were deemed to be potentially relevant. Redaction, I understand, is taking some time. These are detailed papers but it is my understanding that it is under way.

"I do not think that it would compromise the date [for the inquest]."

The disclosure of documents, including a Prisoner Ombudsman report and associated statements; police statements; a review of Carson's care conducted by health authorities; other medical notes and a post mortem report were requested by the Coroner during a previous hearing earlier this year.

The ombudsman's report into the prisoner's death raised concerns that claims he was repeatedly bullied and threatened by other inmates were not properly handled by the authorities.

Carson was found hanged in his cell.

Ms Anderson said: "I will set two weeks for the disclosure to be completed."

The court heard that following disclosure proceedings would shift to agreeing a witness list and draft questions for the jury.

It was agreed that another preliminary hearing should take place in December on a date to be fixed.

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