Belfast Telegraph

Warder given anonymity 'has a significant profile'

The identity of a high-ranking prison officer granted anonymity at an inquest for a man who died in jail already is widely known, the High Court has heard.

Lawyers for the mother of James McDonnell argued that the warder has given television interviews as part of a significant public profile.

Mr McDonnell (36), from Antrim, suffered a fatal heart attack in HMP Maghaberry in March 1996.

A short time earlier officers had subjected him to a control and restraint procedure, with a post-mortem examination identifying neck injuries.

His mother Elizabeth is seeking a judicial review of decisions to maintain anonymity and screening for those who testified last year at the inquest into her son's death.

Senior coroner John Leckey has referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate whether any criminal offence was committed.

But even though Mrs McDonnell is satisfied with the outcome of the tribunal, she wants the granting of anonymity overturned.

Karen Quinlivan QC told the court yesterday that the identity of the witnesses, referred to as Officer H, has been known to the family and various legal representatives for years.

Mr Justice Treacy also warned that she was "coming perilously close" to identifying him.

He said that a Press ban would not stop members of the public listening to the case from "joining up the dots".

But Ms Quinlivan said at one stage: "In a way I'm presenting this case in secret by not opening the facts."

The hearing continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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