Inmate destroyed Mountjoy Prison cell after taking 'cocktail of sleeping tablets'

CourtsBy Sunday World
Mountjoy Prison
Mountjoy Prison

A inmate who destroyed his prison cell because he was anxious to get medical attention after taking a “cocktail of sleeping tablets” has been jailed for eight months.

Robert Ellis (24) of Ballyfermot Parade, Ballyfermot, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to criminal damage at Mountjoy Prison on February 11, 2014. He was serving a sentence at the time and has a total of 34 previous convictions including criminal damage, assault, trespass, drugs, theft and public order offences.

Garda Barry Brennan told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting that a prison officer working on the A1 landing that night heard noises coming from two adjoining cells.

The officer could see that Ellis had pulled away a toilet and wash hand basin from the wall, had broken the protective screen in the cell and the mirrors and had destroyed his mattress and bedlinen. The damage was later estimated at €2,000.

Ellis was removed from his cell, examined by a medic and placed in a padded cell.

He later told gardaí that he had taken “a cocktail of sleeping tablets” earlier that day and had been coughing blood. He looked for the medic who gave him paracetamol and told him to have a rest.

Ellis said he became concerned when he continued to be sick and cough blood so he decided he would get attention by smashing up things in his cell.

He accepted that he had “not gone about it the right way” and said he hadn't been thinking straight.

The prisoner next to him had also destroyed his cell in an attempt to support Ellis.

Gda Brennan agreed with Dean Kelly BL, defending that it was the standard procedure to seek medical attention for an inmate who had destroyed their cell.

Mr Kelly told Judge Martin Nolan that his client apologised for his behaviour and submitted that it was not a case where Ellis had attempted to disrupt the running of the prison.

He said Ellis's bad behaviour came to an end when he was taken from his cell.

He said his client had little contact with his mother who was a serious drug user or his father who was paralysed through a previous suicide attempt.

Mr Kelly said Ellis was doing well in custody and his girlfriend was expecting their first child.

Judge Nolan accepted that this was Ellis's way of attracting attention because he was concerned for his health and acknowledged that he had made full admissions.

By Sonya McLean