Belfast Telegraph

Prison staff not to blame for inmate’s drug death, inquest told

By Anna Maguire

The police found that the Prison Service was not to blame for the death of an inmate three years ago, an inquest has heard.

The death of Richard Gilmore from a suspected overdose on January 11, 2009, prompted an investigation by the Prisoners Ombudsman.

The 25-year-old, from Grangeville Gardens in the south Belfast suburb of Finaghy, was found dead in his cell on the prison’s D wing, hours after another inmate was rushed to hospital following a suspected overdose.

A plastic Kinder egg stuffed with cannabis resin and tablets was found under Gilmore’s lifeless body, as prison officers and a nurse tried to resuscitate him.

The inquest heard that Gilmore — who had a history of drug misuse — had concealed the plastic container within his body cavity on returning from prison leave two days before his death.

At the first day of his inquest yesterday, state pathologist Dr Alistair Bentley said a cocktail of drugs — including codeine, morphine and diazepam — were found in his system following a post-mortem.

He told the 10-strong jury: “Individually the levels of the drugs on his body probably would not have killed him. It was the combination effect of the drugs.”

Mr Gilmore’s father, also called Richard, said he and his family were unaware of his son’s drug use. He said the former call centre worker — who was due for release in three weeks — was looking forward to moving in with his girlfriend when he got out of jail.

The inquest heard that Gilmore had returned early to jail on January 9, arousing suspicion among prison officers. A body search and a strip and cell search the next day recovered nothing.

Prison officer Gareth Stevenson said staff believed drugs may have been circulating in the prison in the lead-up to the death.

The inquest continues.

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