Shatter apologises to family of murdered prisoner Gary Douch

Prison service missed warning signs in behaviour of killer Stephen Egan

The funeral of Gary Douch in 2006. The 21-year-old was beaten to death in a communal cell in Mountjoy. Photograph: Collins

The funeral of Gary Douch in 2006. The 21-year-old was beaten to death in a communal cell in Mountjoy. Photograph: Collins

Fri, May 2, 2014, 01:00

The Irish Prison Service missed a key warning sign in the behaviour of a mentally ill prisoner who went on to kill Gary Douch (21) in Mountjoy Prison.

It failed to properly respond when the killer tried to choke and take hostage a female prison officer nine months earlier, a commission of investigation into the case has concluded in a report published yesterday.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter yesterday met the dead man’s family, apologising and extending his sympathies.

“The commission of investigation’s conclusion is clear – his death was avoidable and should not have happened,” he said of the killing in 2006 of Douch, from Coolock, north Dublin. “It is only right that I apologise on behalf of the State and Irish Prison Service to the family of Gary Douch.”


‘Conditions transformed’
The Irish Prison Service said in the eight years since the killing, conditions had been transformed across the prison system, with all but a “relatively small” number of prisoners in Mountjoy are now housed in single-cell accommodation.

Douch’s killer, Stephen Egan, tried to use rigid handcuffs to choke a female prison officer during a transfer from Cork Prison nine months before his murder of Douch. The commission of investigation has concluded that violent incident was never fully investigated with a view to formulating better care for Egan, despite his mental illness and the risks he posed.

He was never medically assessed when transferred on July 29th, 2006, from Cloverhill to Mountjoy and neither his medical records not medication followed him.

Egan was locked into a communal cell with six other prisoners, where he fatally attacked Gary Douch in the early hours of August 1st, 2006.