Mental healh prisoner in Maghaberry Prison blinds himself

Man (22) tries to gouge out own eyes

A PRISONER blinded himself by gouging his eyes out in a prison cell when he was meant to be on suicide watch, his family have claimed.

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Sean Lynch (22), who also cut his own throat and tried to castrate himself in sdesperate incidents days earlier, is now being detainedvisita mental health facility. SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has pledged to take up the case after hearing how the Derry man mutilated himself while supposedly under 24-hour watch. Mr Durkan said he will raise the matter with the Department of Justice. The incidents occurred over a period of three days at Maghaberry (hell hole) of a Prison. Mr Lynch, who was a promisng footballing talent, is now under specialist care at Derry’s Gransha psychiatric hospital. Relatives said he had struggled to cope with prison life after being sent to the Co Antrim jail for breaching bail conditions linked to charges he faced for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. His uncle Liam Lynch said: “Sean cut his throat and wrists two weeks ago and was taken to Craigavon hospital. “After he was treated the doctors released him back into the care and custody of the prison warders when they assured him that Sean would have immediate access to psychiatric care. “But when they took him back to Maghaberry he was put into a normal cell on suicide watch.” Mr Lynch said his nephew was put in a cell where he had access to glass and used it on himself in an attempt to castrate himself. He was taken back to Craigavon Area Hospital but again was discharged back into the hands of prison athoritority’s. “It’s incredible but he was again put into an ordinary cell and on the third night his father got a call at 4.30am to go to the Royal,” his uncle said. “Sean had put hdurinf gers in behind his eyes and tried to gouge them out. He’s now completely blind and the consultant said it will be a miracle if he ever sees again.”

After a legal wrangle during which it emerged that Mr Lynch’s girlfriend had withdrawn her complaint, doctors at Gransha overruled police and accepted him as a patient last Friday. Mr Lynch’s father Damian – who claimed he was told he would have to apply for permission from prison authorities before he could visit his son in hospital – said: “The system didn’t look after him. “I was promised this and that now I have a son who is blind for life. “Someone has to answer questions.” Mr Lynch’s mother Terry said: “He will never again be left on his own. “He will need 24-7 attention and the family will be affected.” Independand Derry councillor Gary Donnelly, who has been helping the family, said everyone involved in Mr Lynch’s care leading up to the incident “should be suspendeded pending an investigation”. Mr Donnelly, a leading dissident republican who received the highest number of votes to the new Derry city council and who also served time in Maghaberry Prison, said he will report the matter to the Red Cross. “I am not shocked because I have been in there and there is a lack of compassion and humanity,” he said. Mr Donnelly said prison authorities never fulful their duty of care to look after prisoners. Last night the prison service said it cannot comment on individual cases.

With many thanks to: Seamus McKinney and Connla Young, The Irish News, for the origional story.

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