Mountjoy was short staffed on day prisoner died after swallowing drugs pack

Paschal Doyle
Paschal Doyle

MOUNTJOY Prison was short staffed on the day a prisoner requiring transfer to hospital was left in his cell and later died.

Paschal Doyle (31), a father of four, died because a package of drugs was obstructing his small bowel.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that the prison was down more than 40 staff members on July 25, 2014, as Mr Doyle waited in the prison reception area to be transferred to hospital.

The transfer required three prison officers, the court heard.

The chief officer at Mountjoy, Donal Keegan, said he was told at around 3pm that Mr Doyle was to go to hospital, but the transfer was not an emergency.

“At this time we were not in a position to send Paschal Doyle to the Mater, there was not enough staff,” Mr Keegan said.

The previous day, July 24, Mr Doyle was seen by a locum doctor on duty in Mountjoy. Dr Emil Penev recommended Mr Doyle’s urgent transfer to hospital, but this did not happen.

Mr Doyle – from Pollarton in Co Carlow – was attacked by fellow prisoners twice in the days leading up to his death on July 26, 2014.

The prisoner, who was serving a five-month sentence, was visited by his wife Eva Doyle the day before he died.

She said he had bruises and cuts to his face and was slumped over. “He could hardly stand up he was so weak. I was really worried because he kept telling me how much he loved me and the kids,” she said.

Her husband was an addict from a young age and had a drug debt, Ms Doyle said. He was seen swallowing something he claimed was a sweet while under escort at a court appearance in Carlow on July 11, 2014.

A prison escort had noticed something in Mr Doyle’s pocket in Carlow courthouse on that day.

Mr Doyle said it was only a sweet and immediately put it in his mouth, the court heard.

The day before his death, prison officer David Corr asked the inmate if he had swallowed something.

 “He smiled and shook his head,” Mr Corr said.

Asked why Mr Doyle was not transferred to hospital, chief nurse officer Ann Collins said she did not know.

Mr Doyle died from the inhalation of gastric contents, due to acute obstruction of the small bowel by a small package, according to State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy.

The package of drugs was intact. The inquest continues.

Louise Roseingrave