THE DEATH OF Mountjoy Prison inmate Gary Douch, who was kicked and strangled to death by fellow inmate Stephen Egan in August 2006, was “avoidable and should not have happened”.
The Report of the Commission of Investigation into Douch’s death was published today and outlined problems in the management of Egan.
The report outlines “systemic failures” and how Egan had been recorded as “a disruptive and potentially violent prisoner” but his subsequently handling did not adequately reflect this.
Egan has since been convicted of manslaughter by diminished responsibility. A month before the killing, he had been transferred from the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum to Mountjoy.
The report states that the decision to transfer Stephen Egan to Mountjoy on 29 July was arrived at “without any regard to his on-going need for psychiatric care and treatment”.
Douch was beaten, kicked and strangled to death in an unprovoked attack before being left overnight under a mattress or duvet. Media reports at the time indicated that the other people in the cell were too frightened of the killer to raise the alarm or call for a guard.
In the November prior to the fatal attack, Egan was also transferred from Cork Prison to Cloverhill but the report states that this was not managed properly either.
Futhermore, there was no review of Egan’s behaviour during this transfer and the failure to do so was a missed opportunity to assess if it was linked to the deterioration in his mental health.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter TD, and Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch met with the late Gary Douch’s mother and other family members today, issuing an apology on behalf of the state:
The Commission of Investigation’s conclusion is clear – his death was avoidable and should not have happened. It is only right that I apologise on behalf of the State and Irish Prison Service to the family of Gary Douch. I hope this report helps to clarify for them what happened that night, what should have been avoided, and what can be learnt to ensure there is no possibility of this happening again.
The Commission of Investigation was undertaken by Gráinne McMorrow SC and recognised that essential improvements have been put in place since Douch’s death.
But further recommendations include more work to implement ‘alternatives to custody’ options. The report states that alternative sentencing options could deliver measureable benefits all round.