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Further probe into prison hanging

Prison officers have been warned that further investigations are being carried out into the death of vulnerable prisoner John Anthony Deery in Maghaberry Prison in August.

Four members of the healthcare staff at the prison are said to be devastated after being informed on Thursday afternoon that they were being suspended following an investigation by the Prisoner Ombudsman into sex offender Deery’s suicide.

On Friday morning, new Governor Steve Rodford assembled all staff arriving for duty and ushered them into the prison chapel where they were advised further investigations were being carried out.

It’s understood that CCTV footage recorded in the prison’s Lagan House where Deery was kept for a short period of time before he was moved to Bush House will be examined.

Part of Bush House was being used as a temporary hospital when Deery hanged himself in a cell.

One prison officer said: “The people suspended are completely dedicated nursing staff who tended to Deery and others in their care. They’re now being investigated about literally minutes in their daily schedule records and whether the timings are precise.

“Staff on duty at Lagan House for the brief period Deery was there are going to be scrutinised in the same way. It’s a witch hunt”.

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There are also concerns that tapes covering the supervision of all ‘Prisoners at Risk’ category inmates at Maghaberry may eventually be examined to see if staff accurately recorded the times they observed the prisoners during their shifts over the last two years.

In a statement, the Prison Service confirmed that the Governor of Maghaberry called all staff arriving for duty on Friday morning to a meeting along with senior staff and representatives from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.

“The briefing was developed in line with the on-going investigation by the Prisoner Ombudsman into the death in custody of John Anthony Deery,” it said.

“This was entirely appropriate and in keeping with good practice in the Prison Service.”


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