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Family dismisses John Brady cell suicide report

The sister of a man who took his own life in police custody in Londonderry has slammed the Police Ombudsman's report into her brother's death.

Strabane man John Brady (40) was found by his solicitor hanging in a consultation room at Strand Road police station in Derry shortly before 5pm on October 3, 2009.

He had used his shoelaces, which had been tied to a window-opening mechanism.

Ombudsman Al Hutchinson recommended disciplinary action against a number of police officers after an investigation identified failings which provided a prisoner with the opportunity to take his own life while in police custody.

However, Mr Hutchinson found no evidence that police had subjected the prisoner to any form of harassment or inappropriate behaviour during his time in custody. Mr Brady's sister Lorna Brady described the findings as “disappointing” and “the waste of a year” and confirmed the family will now take civil action against the PSNI.

Mr Brady was arrested in Strabane on the evening prior to October 3 following a report that he had been involved in an assault and had made threats to kill.

At the time of his arrest he was on weekend home leave from Maghaberry Prison as part of a pre-release process.

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Speaking after briefing Mr Brady's family, Mr Hutchinson said that a 12-month investigation by his office had found that “several failings in the management and design of the custody suite at Strand Road were contributing factors in providing Mr Brady with the opportunity to self-harm”.

He said: “Mr Brady was left alone and unsupervised in the consultation room on a total of nine occasions, for periods of up to 33 minutes at a time.

“It is totally unacceptable that any prisoner should have been left unsupervised for such significant periods of time, particularly while in possession of shoelaces in a room with a viable ligature point.”

Ms Brady told the Belfast Telegraph that the family still had questions that needed to be answered. She explained: “My brother was not suicidal, it just wasn't in his personality and there was nothing in the report that indicated he was at risk of self-harming.”

In a statement the PSNI said that it was highly regrettable that the death occurred within a police station and that they would be available to meet with Mr Brady’s family to answer any questions they had.

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