Two remand prisoners found hanged
Published 05/05/2011 | 11:22
Two remand prisoners are believed to have hanged themselves in custody in Northern Ireland.
Samuel Carson, 19, was found collapsed on the floor of his cell on Wednesday night at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre and Prison in south Belfast. Efforts by prison staff to revive him failed. He was awaiting trial accused of raping and sexually abusing a teenage girl over three days last year.
Frances McKeown, 23, was found on the floor in her cell a few hours later during a routine check by staff in the women's section of the prison.
Ligatures were recovered in both cells. The deaths are the latest in a series of suicides in prisons, which has led to major reforms to try to prevent them from happening.
Director general Colin McConnell said: "Yesterday's tragic events at Hydebank Wood have stunned everyone and there is deep sadness across the service."
The deaths are being investigated by the police, coroner service and Prisoner Ombudsman Pauline McCabe.
Mr McConnell added: "At this very difficult time I offer my sympathies to both the Carson and McKeown families. They are in the thoughts and prayers of our entire service.
Carson was from Hesketh Road in north Belfast. He appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court in March last year accused of raping and sexually abusing a girl aged 15 over three days. He was also charged with making indecent images of a child on the same dates.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "The deaths of these two young people are a tragedy, for them, their families and the Northern Ireland prison service.
"The only thing we can hope is that a thorough-going investigation into these young deaths will shed some light on the needs of vulnerable young people caught up in the criminal justice system and ways to avoid future tragedy."