Belfast Telegraph

Maghaberry Prison staff under fire after inmate with mental health issues gouges his own eyes out

Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey calls for urgent review

By Donna Deeney

Prison staff at Maghaberry have been accused of a "shameful failure of the duty of care" to a young prisoner with severe mental health issues who inflicted horrendous injuries on himself in custody – including gouging out his own eyes.

Sean Lynch (23) blinded and mutilated himself while he was being held at the jail for breaching his bail conditions, even though he was supposed to be under enhanced supervision.

He is now being cared for in a psychiatric hospital in Londonderry.

Mr Lynch's father Damian accused the prison authorities of "absolute neglect" and claimed his son was never given the attention he was promised, and is now blind.

Mr Lynch was speaking after his son was finally released on bail to Gransha Hospital after a series of incidents where he cut his wrists and throat, mutilated his testicles and gouged his own eyes out.

Mr Lynch said: "The mental health nurse phoned me because they were so concerned and said that Sean would be under the care of three nurses in close supervision.

"Then on Wednesday night Sean mutilated his own testicles.

"He was taken to Craigavon Hospital and stitched up, but then he was taken back to Maghaberry and returned to his cell.

"A senior member of staff even phoned me to say he was surprised Sean had been returned to his care and that he should have been taken away to somewhere else for treatment.

"But again we were told that a close eye would be kept on Sean and nothing more would happen.

"At 4am on the Friday morning I received a phone call to tell me Sean was in the Royal Victoria Hospital and that he had gouged his eyes out."

Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has called for an urgent review and has called on the Minister of Justice David Ford to investigate what he called a "shameful failure of the duty of care".

Mr Ramsey said: "This young man has inflicted serious physical harm on himself in the care of Maghaberry Prison in recent days.

"What has been allowed to happen shows a shameful failure of the duty of care in this case.

"This is an extremely distressing case for this young man and for his loved ones.

"They, rightly, cannot understand how their son was able to inflict such horrific injuries on his body when he was meant to be, it is believed, under enhanced supervision.

"Something has gone badly wrong, and a thorough investigation must take place to ensure this never happens again."

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said it did not comment on individual cases but added: "Prisoners are assessed at risk of self-harm.

"Prisoners are managed in accordance with our procedures for supporting prisoners at risk."

Prisoner gouges his own eyes out and 'mutilates testicles' in Maghaberry 

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