Belfast Telegraph

Jail warder denies misconduct over cell suicide of murderer

A prison officer has denied a charge of misconduct in public office after a convicted killer died by suicide during his shift.

Appearing in the dock of Craigavon Crown court, 34-year-old Daniel Joseph Neal Barclay pleaded not guilty to misconduct in public office on dates between July 30 and August 2, 2008.

The charge alleges that the officer "wilfully neglected to perform his duty, without reasonable excuse or justification, in that he failed to carry out and record the appropriate observations in respect of a prisoner at risk, namely Colin Bell".

Bell, a 34-year-old convicted murderer, hanged himself in his cell at Maghaberry Prison when he was on heightened suicide watch after repeated bouts of self-harming, meaning prison guards had to check him every 15 minutes. Having taken his life at the fourth attempt, his body lay undiscovered in his cell for around 40 minutes and an investigation by then Prison Ombudsman Pauline McCabe was highly critical of many of the working practices at Northern Ireland's top security jail, making many recommendations which have since been implemented.

It is understood video camera footage examined shows prison staff lying in bed watching television while they were supposed to be on duty.

Following the officer's not guilty plea yesterday, lawyers for both the prosecution and defence said there were still steps to be taken in preparation for the two-week trial, due to be heard in the new year. Judge Gemma Loughran released Barclay on continuing bail until his trial and listed the case for review next month.

The judge varied a court-imposed anonymity order allowing Barclay's name to be published, but she said a prohibition on his address will "probably be permanent given the fact that a prison officer was murdered in this jurisdiction within the last short while".

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph