Strabane man found dead in Derry police station
THE family of a former IRA prisoner found dead in a police cell have said he was “the last person” likely to take his own life.
The claim was made as an inquest into the death of Co Tyrone man John Brady opened in Omagh yesterday. Originally from Strabane, Mr Brady was found dead in a cell at Strand Road RUC/PSNI station in Co Derry in October 2009. It has been claimed he was approached by members of the RUC/PSNI’s C3 unit, formerly known as Special Branch, before his death. There has also been speculation that Mr Brady, who served a prison sentence for IRA offences and was later returned to jail after having his licence revoked, may have been put under pressure to become an informer (grass) before being found dead in the police station cell.
The Police Ombsudman, who investigated the case, has said there is no evidence to support the claims but confirmed that two intelligence officers did attempt to gain access to Mr Brady but were turned away by custody staff. At the time of his death Mr Brady was taking part in a pre-release scheme and had been allowed to return home at weekends. During yesterday’s hearing coroner Joe McCrisken was told that Mr Brady was arrested after a “scuffle” with his brother-in-law John Kennedy outside a primary school in Strabane.
Mr Kennedy was listed as a witness at the inquest yesterday but failed to appear. In a statement he gave in 2009, which was read out in court, Mr Kennedy claimed that a fight broke out after he was confronted by his brother-in-law and that Mr Brady had threatened to shoot him. The inquest heard that after the altercation Mr Brady contacted prison officials who advised him to notify police. He also got in touch with a solicitor’s firm in Strabane.
The dead man’s sister, Lorna Brady told the hearing that her brother had been “calm” when police arrested him in Strabane after the clash, with Mr Kennedy adding that “he was not in any way depressed”. “I was very shocked as John was the last person I would think would take his own life,” she said. In response to questions from a lawyer for the coroner, Ms Brady said there were no signs or warning that her brother would take his own life. Under questioning from the coroner, she also said her brother had no fear of returning to jail.
“He spent most of his adult life in jail and jail was not something he was scared of,” she said. The inquest heard that all efforts by the coroner service to trace Mr Kennedy, who left Strabane after Mr Brady’s death, had failed. In his statement, Mr Kennedy claimed that Mr Brady had instigated a fight close to the school at Barrack Street. He claimed that they struck each other around eight times during the altercation and that Mr Brady had threatened to shoot him. He described Mr Brady as a “dangerous man” and said “I am in fear for my life”.
Mr Brady’s now sister-in-law Briege Brady, who had been talking to him outside the school, gave evidence that Mr Kennedy called out ‘John’ at Mr Brady who then approached him. She said she then saw Mr Kennedy “swing a punch” at Mr Brady and heard him say “he was nothing but a f****r”.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Connla Young for the original story
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