Belfast Telegraph

Jail rapped over bailed man's suicide

By George Jackson

One of the UK's most prominent consultant psychiatrists has slammed the Prison Service after a man with mental health problems released on bail killed himself on Christmas Day four years ago.

Dr Keith Rix called for improvements in the exchange of information between prison medical staff and community health staff before prisoners with mental health issues are released from jail.

Dr Rix was speaking at an inquest in Londonderry yesterday into the death of remand prisoner Gerard Francis McAlary, who hanged himself on Christmas Day 2010.

Just four days earlier, Mr McAlary had been released on bail from Maghaberry Prison, where he had been in custody since May 2010 charged with threatening to kill a person.

Mr McAlary's body was found by his mother Annie in the back garden of their home at Kirley Road in Maghera.

Dr Rix, who carried out an investigation into Mr McAlary's death at the request of the Prison Ombudsman, told Northern Ireland's senior coroner John Leckey that in his report he criticised the "quality of the flow of information" from the prison to Mr McAlary's general practitioner.

Dr Rix said Mr McAlary received "an extremely high level of mental health care" in Maghaberry Prison.

The coroner said the prisons "have better resources to address mental health cases than there is outside".

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