State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy is due to carry out a post-mortem examination this morning on the body of a 41-year-old prisoner stabbed to death in Cork Prison yesterday afternoon.
Graham Johnson from Ardan in Bandon was serving a five-year sentence for robbery and larceny when he was stabbed to death during a row in the prison kitchen around 5pm.
Mr Johnson suffered a single stab wound to the chest in the row and prison nursing staff attended to him at the scene but he was pronounced dead a short time later by a doctor.
Mr Johnson was one of nine trustee prisoners working in the kitchen at the time and it’s understood that a row broke out with another man over a remote control for the kitchen TV.
Trustee prisoners are prisoners who are considered suitable to work in certain areas of the prison and working in the kitchen is regarded as a privilege for prisoners.
Gardaí at Mayfield Garda Station were notified and the kitchen was immediately cordoned off to allow garda technical experts carry out an examination of the scene.
It’s understood that garda technical experts have recovered a metal which they believe was used by Mr Johnson’s assailant and it is being forensically examined.
Mr Johnson’s body remained at the scene until late last night before his remains were removed to Cork University Hospital. A post-mortem was carried out on the body at 11.30am on Sunday.
Mr Johnson’s family in Bandon were contacted yesterday evening by the Irish Prison Service and informed of his death and the Director of Prison Services has begun a separate investigation.
Gardaí have begun taking statements from the other trustee prisoners who were working in the kitchen at the time to see if they saw the row developing between Mr Johnson and his assailant.
They have also begun examining CCTV footage in the prison in a bid to establish whether there was any background to the row between Mr Johnson and his assailant prior to the assault.
The suspect in the case, a 30-year-old man who is on remand for a seriously violent assault in Cork city earlier this year, was put into isolation following the fatal assault.
Garda sources told The Irish Times that gardaí will await the result of the post-mortem and forensic tests and the completion of witness statements before interviewing the suspect.
“The man remains in custody on other matters so it’s not as if we will have to go looking for him – we are going to gather all available evidence before seeking to speak to him,” said one source.
Under Irish legislation, gardaí have to apply to a district court judge for a Section 42 warrant to enable them arrest anyone in prison for questioning about any offence.
Gardaí say that they will await the results of the post-mortem before formally opening a murder inquiry but all the steps associated with a murder inquiry have been put in place.
Mr Johnson was nearing the end of a prison sentence after he was given a five-year term with one year suspended in November 2011 for robbery and larceny offences.
He had been given temporary release at Christmas by the prison authorities but had returned to Cork Prison to finish out the remainder of his sentence.
Mr Johnson, who had worked in the construction sector, had pleaded guilty to robbery and larceny when he appeared before Judge Patrick Moran at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in 2011.
On that occasion, the court was told Mr Johnson had stolen €15,000 from his employer and later held up staff at a gold shop in Mallow an armed robbery to feed a chronic gambling addiction.