Belfast Telegraph

MP Finucane found client's body in station in 2009, inquest hears

Former IRA prisoner John Brady
Former IRA prisoner John Brady
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

An inquest into the death of a former IRA prisoner found hanging in a police consultation room by his solicitor John Finucane has heard how police officers tried to save his life.

John Brady (40) from Strabane had been alone in the room at Strand Road PSNI station in Londonderry after Mr Finucane, now the MP for North Belfast, stepped out for 15 minutes, the inquest sitting in Omagh heard.

Mr Finucane made the grim discovery when he returned to the room and raised the alarm, a police officer told the inquest.

Mr Brady, who was on weekend parole from prison, had been brought to Derry after he was arrested in connection with an altercation with his brother-in-law John Kennedy outside a primary school in Strabane on October 2, 2009.

He was held overnight because Mr Finucane was unable to travel to Derry until the following morning.

One officer described to Coroner Joe McCrisken how Mr Finucane had shouted: "Can I get some help, can I get some help?"

He said he had just come on duty in the custody suite a short time before 5pm when he heard Mr Finucane's call for assistance.

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The officer went to the consultation room door where he heard a police sergeant call for a ligature knife, which he ran and retrieved.

When he returned he was told to "cut the ligature" before the sergeant placed Mr Brady on the floor of the room.

This officer was told to get oxygen, which he did, and then checked to see if Mr Brady was breathing.

This officer along with the sergeant commenced CPR on Mr Brady, which they maintained until the arrival of an ambulance.

A second officer in his evidence told the inquest he had been on duty in Strabane station on the morning of October 3, 2009 and was told to go to the Strand Road station to interview Mr Brady.

During the course of the day Mr Brady had consulted with Mr Finucane before being interviewed by police and later told that he was going to be charged.

The officer said Mr Finucane suggested to him there was a pre-determined outcome and that police had already decided to charge Mr Brady even before he was interviewed.

The officer explained protocol in this policing district (G) was "pro-charge" in relation to domestic incidents, but that he would arrange for Mr Finucane to speak with an inspector as he had requested.

Mr Finucane left the station but returned around 4.15pm and asked to see his client in the consultation room, and Mr Brady was brought there.

Mr Finucane, who is due to give his evidence to the inquest at a later date, spoke to his client and then stepped out of the room.

This officer echoed evidence given by his colleague that Mr Finucane shouted for help and that he ran to the consultation room, where he saw Mr Brady "badly slumped".

This officer said he ran and "grabbed a ligature cut", and on his way back to the room noticed Mr Finucane in the hallway "with his hands on his head".

The officer was asked if, after speaking to Mr Brady not long before his death, there "was anything in his demeanour to indicate he was at risk of harming himself?"

He replied: "No."

This officer and three colleagues who also gave evidence to the inquest had all been asked by the Brady family's legal representative about the presence of a C3 officer (Special Branch) in the custody suite at the time Mr Brady was being detained.

All but this officer said they were unaware of two C3 officers.

However, this officer said he did know they were there and had "surmised" they were there to conduct an "intelligence interview" with Mr Brady.

Asked why it wasn't in his statement to the Police Ombudsman (PONI), who carried out an investigation into Mr Brady's death while in police custody, the officer said he "had been guided" by PONI, who told him the presence of the two C3 officers was "not relevant".

This was challenged by the legal representative for PONI and the officer agreed he may have been mistaken, adding: "It was a long time ago."

The inquest continues.

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