Mother of man murdered in Mountjoy feels ‘let down’ at lack of report seven years on

Further delay in publishing findings of commission of inquiry into murder of Gary Douch

The mother of a man murdered in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin has urged Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to do everything in his power to assist a commission of inquiry still ongoing almost seven years after the killing.

'Left in the dark'
Margaret Rafter said she felt "let down" and "left in the dark" by the State. The lack of any real response to her son Gary Douch's murder suggested to her that in the eyes of the Government and Irish Prison Service his life counted for little, she added.

“It’s like he didn’t exist, it’s like he’s not an important person. But to me and his family he was very, very important. He was a much-loved child, son, brother, uncle. They don’t care really.”

Ms Rafter was speaking after it emerged the publication of the findings of the commission of inquiry into the murder of her son was being delayed further. Additional evidence has emerged necessitating the reopening of the commission’s investigative function, with further witness interviews to be conducted.


The commission of investigation was approved by the Dáil in April 2007, to be conducted by Gráinne McMorrow SC. However, the criminal trial of the man who killed Mr Douch slowed down the commission’s probe and there have also been very long delays by the State in furnishing documents and other evidence to Ms McMorrow.

While she has continued her work in recent years and submitted a draft final report to the Mr Shatter last April, the new evidence furnished to her of late has meant her work must continue a little longer.

Draft report
When that is concluded, the draft report will be amended and circulated to all relevant parties. They may wish to object to, or seek changes to, some sections.

While the time-frame for the publication of the final report is unclear, some sources said it would be in the first half of next year at the earliest.

Ms Rafter said Mr Shatter should offer more resources to Ms McMorrow, who has not been paid since her salary agreement with the State expired three years ago.

“She never kept us in the dark, unlike the prison authorities. They really and truly have let me down.”

“Maybe when this inquiry comes out, other families won’t have to go through what we’ve gone through. We’ll find out where they let Gary down, where the prison service let him down in the first place. The person who done it shouldn’t have been there in the first place; he should have been where he would have got his proper treatment and my Gary would’ve been still here today.”

Mr Shatter said in response to queries that while the commission was independent of his department he looked forward to its final report very soon. The department continued to fund the commission, he added.

Mr Douch was 20 years old when he was kicked and stamped to death by another prisoner in a holding cell in the basement of Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, in the early hours of August 1st, 2006. Mr Douch’s body was found covered by a blanket when staff went into the cell to investigate why he had not gone to breakfast.

The man who killed him, Stephen Egan, now aged 30 years and from Belcamp Crescent, Coolock, north Dublin, smeared excrement on the dead man.

Egan had been transferred from the Central Mental Hospital to Mountjoy just days before the murder. Despite suffering from a schizo-affective disorder, he did not have his medication in the cell, where he had been placed because there was no room in the prison proper for him.

Holding cell
The other prisoners in the cell had been placed there for their own protection after they had been threatened by others in the prison proper. The cell was a holding cell, intended to hold prisoners as they were being registered into the prison or arrival. The cell was not intended as overnight accommodation but was being used for that purpose because of overcrowding.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times