NewsCrime Desk

Sex offender found dead in cell was "graves for sale" scam artist

Sean Leamy (Pic: Independent)
Sean Leamy (Pic: Independent)

The vile sex offender who was found dead in his prison cell had been running a “graves for sale” scam in which he failed to pass on to Clare County Council more than €20,000 in plot fees he received from grieving families.

Sean Leamy, who may have died violently in his prison cell, according to a report by the Inspector of Prisons, was caged for 10-years for molesting young boys between 1978 and 2005.

Sentencing Leamy in 2012 Judge Carroll Moran said the victims, aged from seven to 14, “had their childhood stolen”

Jailing the pervert, the judge said it was “really scandalous” the abuse continued from 1978 to 2005.

He added: “All of the victims are traumatised and suffered acutely due to what happened. This is a bad case.”

Leamy pleaded guilty to 21 counts of indecent and sexual assault.

In a statement, one of the abuse victims stated: “This man stole our youth from us.”

Another said: “My innocence was stolen by Sean Leamy. I carried around this secret. I was completely traumatised. My voice was silenced with all this anguish and pain. My spirit and character were broken.”

Several concerns about the death of the graveyard caretaker from Tulla, Co Clare, were highlighted by Judge Michael Reilly this week, including the failure of prison staff to preserve the scene.

He also found management at the Midlands Prison did not exercise the duty of care that would be expected when they moved the 61-year-old into a cell with a much younger inmate.

The cell mate (31), considered a "volatile prisoner" with a conviction for false imprisonment, had set up a makeshift still in the cell to distil illicit "hooch".

Gardaí investigated Leamy's death two years ago, but it did not result in any prosecution.

According to Judge Reilly's report, the deceased suffered head injuries which were not self-inflicted. A coroner concluded he died from cardiac arrest precipitated by blunt force trauma to the head and trunk.

Leamy was found unconscious in his cell at 7.15pm on February 12, 2013. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

According to the report, Leamy, who was in poor health, had been accommodated in a single cell, but was transferred to a double cell in another wing of the prison against his wishes. The move saw him paired with the 31-year-old inmate on January 26 - just 17 days before his death.

The deceased was a non- smoker and a non-drinker who suffered from asthma, but his new cell mate was a chain-smoker and a known "hooch-maker".

On the day of Leamy's death, CCTV footage showed numerous prisoners visiting the cell, apparently to drink hooch.

Leamy's body was discovered after a prison officer became suspicious. A makeshift still and two sticks were also recovered.

The judge found the scene may have been contaminated between the time the body was found and the time gardaí arrived. No Prison Service personnel were deployed to preserve the scene.

Judge Reilly recommended that elderly and long-term prisoners should get single cells, and said prison governors must be aware of their legal obligations to protect the health of prisoners.

In a statement, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said steps had been taken to address Judge Reilly's concerns.