Homeless man died of alcohol withdrawal in prison, inquest told

Jury returns misadventure verdict and advises review of information exchange on prisoners

A homeless man with a chronic drink problem died due to alcohol withdrawal after being sent to prison, an inquest has heard.

A homeless man with a chronic drink problem died due to alcohol withdrawal after being sent to prison, an inquest has heard.

 

A homeless man with a chronic drink problem died due to alcohol withdrawal after being sent to prison, an inquest has heard.

Josef Gembicky (58) died in hospital on June 13th, 2015, two weeks after he was committed to Cloverhill Prison for breaching bail conditions.

He had been sleeping rough at North Lotts, a lane off Bachelor’s Walk in Dublin 1, and his behaviour became the subject of a number of complaints.

Gembicky, who was from Eastern Europe, was charged with a number of public order offences in May 2015, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

On May 30th, 2015, he was remanded in custody at Dublin District Court for breach of bail conditions which included staying sober and staying away from the North Lotts area.

Gembicky was assessed on arrival at Cloverhill Prison, where staff were unaware of his history of alcohol addiction. A prison nurse told the court the deceased did not indicate any previous psychiatric or medical condition. She said his English was limited and he had problems filling in a “very detailed”’ questionnaire.

History

In an interview with the prison doctor the day after his arrival, Gembicky denied having a history of alcoholism. Asked if had understood the question, the doctor said he felt their communication was “sufficient”.

On June 2nd, 2015, he was found unwell in his cell with his symptoms described as a “typical picture of alcohol withdrawal”. He was given Librium and regained consciousness but suffered a seizure and was rushed to Tallaght Hospital, where he died 10 days later.

The cause of death was pneumonia due to brain damage due to epileptic seizures due to alcohol withdrawal, with inhalation of vomit as a contributory factor.

The nurse officer who gave the man Librium said his body went into shock due to withdrawal from alcohol and he developed seizures as a result.

The jury returned a verdict of misadventure and recommended that the Irish Prison Service review the effectiveness of the exchange of information in relation to prior alcohol dependence on committal.