Mother of rapist questions why he was not on suicide watch

Dean Barry (24) found dead in his cell in Limerick prison last year

Dean Barry (24)  leaving Limerick District Court in 2011. Photograph: Press 22

Dean Barry (24) leaving Limerick District Court in 2011. Photograph: Press 22


The mother of a convicted gang rapist found hanging in his prison cell has questioned why her son was not on suicide watch at the time of his death.

Dean Barry (24) of Garryglass Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick, was found dead in a cell he was sharing with his younger brother Mark Barry, and another inmate at Limerick prison on January 21st 2012.

A serial offender, Barry was first jailed when he was 16 years old for his role in a vicious gang rape in Co Clare, for which he served five of a nine year prison sentence.

He was one of four teenagers and a 25-year-old man who gang raped the woman in the car park of Cratloe Woods in 2004.

At the time of his death, the 24-year-old was on remand in Limerick prison after being charged with an arson attack in which he allegedly set fire to his house with his mother and girlfriend inside.

He was also previously charged with assaulting a man with a glass bottle and was given a suspended sentence in 2011 for terrorising staff at the Mid Western Regional Hospital.

At an inquest into his death today Valerie Barry questioned why her son who was not on suicide watch, and told the Coroner’s Court he had a number of issues and his “head wasn’t right”.

“Each time he was in prison he was always on suicide watch over his mind. I genuinely thought he was on suicide watch even though he was sharing a cell with his brother....His head wasn’t right, he had a good number of issues,” Mrs Barry said.

Insisting she was not blaming anyone for her son’s death, Mrs Barry thanked the prison officers and ambulance staff for all their help in trying to resuscitate the 24-year-old after he was found hanging in his cell.

Prison Officer Eamon Stapleton told the inquest he had observed Dean Barry less than an hour before playing on a PlayStation in his cell.

The court heard that Dean’s younger brother Mark and another inmate had opted to leave their cell for exercise in the yard.

However, Dean told officers that he wanted to stay in the cell to play his PlayStation

He was found hanging from the top bunk in his cell at about 1.35pm on the afternoon of January 21st 2012, while a note was found beside his body.

Emergency services were called and efforts were made to resuscitate him. He was taken to the then Mid Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle where he was pronounced dead.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster told the inquest she found ligature marks around Mr Barry’s neck consistent with a bed sheet tied in a knot in two pieces and determined the cause of death was asphyxia.

Coroner Anthony Casey asked if Mr Barry was attending a psychiatrist while in prison.

He was told he had been and that he had been seen a short time before his death.

Prison staff confirmed he was not on suicide watch.

After hearing the evidence, the jury returned an open verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.