Probe launched at Maghaberry jail after fresh weekend suicide

PRISON chiefs have launched a probe after an inmate took his own life in Ulster’s top security jail.

Michael McDonagh, 28, was a remand prisoner  who was awaiting trial on robbery charges.

It is understood Mr McDonagh, a member of the travelling community, took his own life on in the early hour of this morning. A ligature was found nearby.

Despite efforts to revive him, he was pronounced dead at 1.40 am

An investigation is now underway and Prison Ombudsman Pauline McCabe is to launch her own probe alongside one by the coroner.

Prison Service Director General Sue McAllister said: “I would extend my sympathy and that of the Northern Ireland Prison Service to the family of Mr McDonagh.

“This is a tragedy and my thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

This morning’s death is the latest in a series of suicides at the Co Antrim prison in recent years.

Seven prisoners have now taken their own lives in Northern Ireland jails in the past 21 months.

In July this year, a prisoner was found hanged in his Maghaberry prison cell.

Staff at the top security jail tried to  revive Niall Oliver Leonard, 37, from Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, when they  discovered him in a collapsed state.

Mr Leonard, a widowed father-of-two, had been serving a three-month jail term  for drink-driving charges after police stopped his Volkswagen car not far from  his home in January.

At the time he had been banned from driving.

Prison Ombudsman Pauline McCabe is expected to probe latest suicide in custody

Prison Ombudsman Pauline McCabe recently pubished a scathing report following an investigation into the death of Belfast man Aaron Hogg in Maghaberry prison last year. 2011.

Hogg, 21, from north Belfast, was found hanging in his cell on Sunday, May 22, 2011.

The report found that Hogg had a number of background risk factors that indicated an increased risk of suicide in custody.

The investigation found clear evidence that, during his time in custody, Hogg had:

* sleeping difficulties;

* was abusing prescribed medication and illegal drugs;

* continued to be concerned about things that had happened to him in the past;

* and in his last days, was very troubled by hallucinations.

However, it did find that that there were many aspects in which Hogg did not act in his own best interest.

This included:

* failing to tell staff about the deterioration in his mental health;

* not taking his medication as prescribed;

* asking visitors to source illegal substances for him;

* taking non-prescribed medication and illegal substances.

The investigation found that at the time of Aaron’s death, he should have been in possession of 113 tablets of his prescribed medication, however just one tablet was found in his cell.

A post mortem examination of his remains revealed the presence of at least six non-prescribed medications and cannabis within his blood and urine.

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