Belfast Telegraph

Sick prisoner 'needed hospital'

A prisoner who died days after being locked up should have been sent to hospital, a coroner's court in Northern Ireland has ruled.

Inadequate monitoring was highlighted by jurors after wheelchair-bound Stephen Doran, 69, was put in high-security Maghaberry convicted of sex offences including against children.

He arrived in poor condition from serious lung disease in June 2008, was transferred to the prison healthcare centre and died four days later.

Nurse Helga McKay observed the patient's condition. "He was probably the worst I have ever seen whilst I was at Maghaberry prison," she said.

Prison doctor Griffiths Boreland, the senior medical officer, added: "The more direct line of the hospital would have probably been a wiser decision but at the time it seemed correct to do what we were doing."

The Newry, Co Down, inquest heard from Mr Boreland how the Co Antrim jail does not enjoy the same medical facilities as somewhere like Belfast City Hospital. It is more akin to a sick room than a fully-resourced hospital ward.

Dr Boreland added: "Someone like him comes in totally unknown to us and we have to try and get the priorities of all the medical history and deal with it. Mr Doran was a frail gentleman; that was probably setting the scene for the speed with which pneumonia could have a devastating effect."

The unemployed heavy smoker, from Avondale, Warrenpoint Road, Newry, suffered from severe lung disease and had respiratory problems for a decade.

Senior coroner John Leckey said a hospital may have discovered the infection sooner. Prison health centres rarely have to conduct hourly checks and patients are still locked up.

The jury said the decision to take the man to prison was incorrect and he should have gone to hospital. The panel said he should have been more closely monitored.

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