Limerick mother questions why son not on prison suicide watch


limerickprisonby Andrew Carey

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THE mother of a convicted gang rapist found hanging in his cell has questioned why her son was not on suicide watch at the time of his death.

Dean Barry (24) of Garryglass Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick was found dead in his cell by prison officers after his brother and another inmate left for daily exercise after a 23-hour lockdown at Limerick Prison.

At the inquest into his death, Valerie Barry questioned why her son was not on suicide watch as his “head wasn’t right over his past”. He was on remand at the prison on charges of setting fire to his home while his mother and girlfriend were inside the building.

He was one of four Limerick teenagers who gang-raped the woman in a car park at Cratloe Woods and had served five years of a nine year prison sentence after he was convicted at the Central Criminal Court in January 2004.

The court was told that the woman was dragged into the car and the gang took turns raping her while they threatened to burn the car with her boyfriend inside if she resisted.

After his release, Dean Barry was before the courts on a number of occasions.

At Limerick Coroners Court on Wednesday, Coroner Anthony Casey was told that on January 21, 2012, Dean’s brother Mark and another inmate opted to leave their cell on the top floor of Limerick Prison for exercise in the yard after their 23 hour lockdown.

However, Dean told officers that he wanted to stay in the cell to play his PlayStation. It was previously reported that he left a note saying he was sorry for his past.

Prison officers gave evidence of opening the cell shortly after 12:35pm when they found Dean Barry hanging from the bunk in his cell.

Prison nursing officers and emergency staff tried to revive him and medical staff noted no change in his vital signs after 30 minutes of emergency treatment, the inquest heard.

Evidence was also given by Roxboro Road based Garda Jill Geary, and prison officers and emergency medical personnel who attended the scene.

His was removed from the cell and he was later pronounced dead at the then Mid Western Regional Hospital.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster, who performed an autopsy at the hospital the following day, said death was caused by asphyxiation as a result of suspension from a ligature.

Dr Bolster said that there were no other signs of internal trauma, however she did note a number of scars to Dean Barry’s arms and wrists.

A note and personal items were returned to the family.

Addressing the inquest, Mark Barry asked prison officers why bed fixings had been changed from wooden to metal. These, he claimed, were what his brother was able to hang himself from.

After thanking the officers at Limerick Prison and the medical staff who tried to revive her son, Valerie Barry questioned why he was not on suicide watch.

“Although he was in a cell with his brother, he should have been on suicide watch – his head wasn’t right over his past. He did a long time in prison,” she added.

The inquest heard that Dean Barry had been attending a psychiatrist and had a consultation before his death but no details of this visit were given to the inquest.

Prison staff confirmed he was not on suicide watch.

The jury returned an open verdict in accordance with medical evidence.