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Ireland’s most dangerous prisoners: spotlight on specialist unit after violent attacks

We reveal the half dozen prisoners currently occupying the unit

A Prison Officer opens a Visiting Box at the National Violence Reduction Unit

Celyn Eadon

Eamon DillonSunday World

A series of sudden and violent attacks on prison officers which featured in a recent court case put the spotlight on the specialist prison unit where Ireland’s most violent prisoners are held.

The National Violence Reduction Unit opened in Midlands Prison in November 2018, aimed at a small number of imates involved in repeated serious violence.

Staffed by specially-trained prison officers along with psychologists and other support workers, it is effectively home to the country’s most violent prison inmates.

Celyn Eadon

One of the first inmates originally sent there, Celyn Eadon (31), is among the half dozen prisoners currently occupying the unit.

He had been released from the unit in September 2021 after serving his sentence for killing his mother in a frenzied knife attack when he was 19.

But within three months of life on the outside, Eadon was back in the unit after launching an unprovoked assault on a support worker at his new home in west Dublin.

On the day of his release Eadon had been taken to an address in Dublin’s north inner-city by five prison officers on the day of his release, such was fear of the danger he posed to the public.

Eadon who has a brain injury from excessive drug taking as a teenager, got another 18 months for the attack at Dublin Circuit Court last July.

His time in jail since 2011 for killing his mother, has been marked by several violent episodes and attacks on staff.

Details of Eadon’s disturbed and violent behaviour while in prison emerged during various court hearings as he notched up more convictions.

He carried out 15 assaults including ten on prison staff.

During his time inside Eadon had been subject to what is known as ‘barrier-handling’ in prison in which he is escorted by a control-and-restraint team any time he had to be taken from his cell.

Brendan Cummins

Likewise former champion boxer Brendan Cummins (27) has been the subject of barrier handling because of his violence toward staff.

It was his latest conviction for a series of assaults which brought NVRU back into the public eye as he pleaded guilty to two knife attacks in Dundalk in 2019, a sword attack on a garda and three assaults on prison officers, including one where he threw boiling water.

Cummins was moved to the special unit after he refused to engage with prison authorities while his volatile and unpredictable behaviour has seen him in solitary confinement for three and a half years.

In August 2020 he threw boiling water on a prison officer’s face and chest, in the NVRU it was heard in court earlier this month.

He also later launched an attack on an officer who had witnessed the first attack and a third prison officer when Cummins lunged at them, punching one of them in the face with threats to kill.

At one point Cummins was moved out of the NVRU to the adjacent high-security Portlaoise Prison “to give staff a break”, according to Sunday World sources.

Killer Brian Willloughby serving life for the murder of an innocent teenager is another NVRU resident who once got an extra three months for attacking a prison officer with a sweeping brush.

Willoughby (44) is serving a life sentence for unprovoked frenzied knife attack on 19-year-old man in south Dublin in 2000.

In 2020 he pleaded guilty to attacking the prison officer in Mountjoy who had asked him to go back to his cell.

Willoughby was previously given another two-and-a-half-year sentence in 2018 when he admitted an assault on a prison officer.

In that case, the officer was on duty on December 31, 2017, supervising inmates during lunchtime when he felt punches to the back of his head.

Turning around, he saw it was Willoughby and radioed for assistance who was retrained when another prison officer arrived.

At his most recent court appearance it was heard how Willoughby, originally from Templeogue, had come from a good family but had some psychological problems and got into "more and more difficulty".

Larry Murphy, originally form Cabra, is serving a life sentence after stabbing his cell-mate to death in 2000 for snoring too loudly

He got another six and half year sentence in 2008 for assaulting a Wheatfield Prison officer and stabbing a rapist in Mountjoy Prison.

He attacked the prison officer because he mistakenly thought he was looking at his girlfriend's back when she leaned over to kiss him during a visit.

He stabbed the rapist ten times because he thought the man was going to send "dirty letters" to his partner's young daughter.

Murphy himself had given the victim a picture of the girl to make an illustration, but only realised later that the prisoner was a rapist.

Other inmates in the NVRU can’t be named at this time for legal reasons.


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