NewsCrime Desk

Four prison officers out of work following savage attack by Mountjoy lag

Zachary Purcell
Zachary Purcell

Four prison officers are out of work on sick leave after one of the country’s most violent inmates attacked them.

Zachary Purcell (27), from the capital’s south inner city, struck in Mountjoy Prison on Friday after he was refused permission to make a phone call.

The thug from the Basin Street flats, who has over 50 previous convictions, is serving a jail sentence for burglary offences and has spent most of his adult life in prison.

Sources said he became aggressive after initially declining to go into an exercise yard. The criminal demanded that he be allowed to make a phone call, but this was declined.

Immediately, he threw a chair and bin at the officers. He then lashed out at prison officers with his fists and viciously assaulted one staff member before running into his cell.

However, the melee continued and officers tried to force the convict back inside his cell. They were repeatedly struck by Purcell.

The arms and hands of the officers were injured as they attempted to restrain him. After managing to secure the cell, the four officers required medical treatment.

The incident unfolded in an area of the jail called Mountjoy West – which was formerly St Patrick’s Institution for young offenders, but was closed down after repeatedly being criticised by human rights bodies for being unconstitutional

Mountjoy West houses inmates on protection because they are under threat or have a history of volatile and violent behaviour.

Sources have revealed the unit is “under severe pressure” at the moment because of the  number of different feuds involving serious criminals.

There was also an unrelated incident in the unit on Friday morning in which an inmate attempted to assault a prisoner officer.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service confirmed to the Herald that the Purcell attack has taken place.

“In the process of restraining the prisoner a number of officers were injured. This was a serious incident and the staff involved should be complimented for their bravery,” the spokesman said.

Purcell is a notorious criminal whose family home was targeted in March 2013 in a petrol bomb attack linked to low-level feuds he has been involved in the south inner city.

He was a close pal of slain criminal Philip Finnegan, whose body was found in Co Kildare last month.

He also has close links to the Dumbrell crime family and is considered one of Ireland’s most violent inmates.

Purcell also has previous form for attacking prison officers and was given a one-year sentence in April 2013 for attacking a guard with his own radio.

The prison officer required several stitches after the brutal attack.