Prisoner talked of suicide, inquest is told


A REMAND prisoner was found hanging in a protection cell in Mountjoy prison and died 72 hours later, an inquest heard yesterday.

Joseph Brooks (25), of Gairdini Lein, Harmonstown, Dublin, had expressed suicidal intentions to his family before being remanded in custody on February 26th last, pending sentencing in the Dublin Circuit Court, and had asked for protection.

Yesterday his mother, Mrs Alice Brooks, told Dublin Coroner's Court that in the weeks leading to his death her son showed signs of depression as he had thought he was going to receive a four and a half year jail sentence.

She said the night before he went to prison she found him in his bedroom with two needles in his left arm and when she removed the syringes he expressed regret to her. He felt sorry for all the heartbreak he had caused and said he would be better off dead.

Mrs Brooks said that on two occasions before his remands to Mountjoy he had expressed suicide wishes. The first time he came into the house looking for a blue rope and said he was going to hang himself at St Anne's Park, Raheny.

Mrs Brooks said that on February 25th she rang the prison and told staff prison officer Hogan that she was concerned about her son because of his previous suicide intention. She said she told him that her son was afraid of an inmate to whom he owed money.

Evidence was given by a prison officer, Mr Martin O'Neill, of the deceased being found hanging from the back of an 8ft high toilet door by a bed sheet about 1.45 pm. on February 27th.

Ms Catherine Comerford, assistant governor, Mountjoy, said that while visiting "B" basement section at 9.30 a.m. on February 27th she spoke to Mr Brooks, who asked for a phone call to his mother, which was granted. He also requested to be removed from the protection unit.

She added: "I explained to him the consequences of such action, that if he was put into the main body of the prison that he may be in danger from other offenders because he had stated that he owed money over drugs." She then asked him to make his request in writing but that he was to think about it seriously before making a decision. At the time she found him lucid, calm and coherent.

Dr Brian Farrell, the Dublin city coroner, adjourned the inquest for further medical evidence and inquiries to the Mountjoy authorities.