A number of other high-profile inmates are suspected of having been drunk that evening, including gangland thug Derek ‘Bottler’ Devoy and Real IRA killer Sean Connolly
Among the criminals sanctioned over the contraband booze-fuelled violence in the maximum security prison on the evening of December 31 is convicted garda killer Aaron Brady.
He has been formally subjected to P19 disciplinary proceedings for assaulting Sean Groome – a thug serving 15 years for a sickening assault in which he stabbed his victim 16 times and set him on fire.
A source confirmed that a number of other high-profile inmates are suspected of having been drunk that evening, including gangland thug Derek ‘Bottler’ Devoy and Real IRA killer Sean Connolly.
A source told theSunday World: “Brady was taken out of general population in Portlaoise after a drunken brawl with other prisoners on New Year’s Eve.
“He fought and boxed and was drunk. He injured another prisoner and is facing a punishment sanction.
“All the prisoners were drunk and it was just luck that no staff got hurt as the prisoners threw a party for New Year’s.”
It’s understood the cells on the landing had been unlocked at 5pm instead of 5.30pm that evening in recognition of the fact it was New Year’s Eve.
This meant the inmates on the landing were freed earlier than usual to mingle and visit each other in their cells.
The source said the altercation between Brady and Groome occurred in a cell at approximately 6pm.
Contacted this week, a spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service declined to comment.
It’s understood that Brady has since been allowed return to his cell on C4, while a probe is underway in the prison to establish whether the inmates smuggled in the alcohol or whether they consumed homemade ‘hooch.’
Brady has been accommodated on C-Block since September last year after being moved from A-Block, where he had been held since his transfer to Portlaoise in October 2020.
On August 12 that year, Brady was found guilty of the capital murder of Garda Adrian Donohoe and was sentenced to the mandatory term of 40 years’ imprisonment.
He was further sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for robbery at the Credit Union in Lordship, Co Louth on January 25, 2013.
Speaking at his sentencing hearing, Garda Donohoe’s wife Caroline said: ““We had a loving, happy family, but in just 58 senseless seconds everything changed forever.”
Sean Groome, the prisoner Brady injured, has been housed in Portlaoise since December 2020 when he was sentenced over a ‘murderous’ assault on Ciaran Murphy.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Groome targeted Murphy while acting on misinformation his victim was a garda informant.
Murphy later told the Sunday World how during the assault Groome “stabbed me 16 times including here … in the heart.
“Then he poured the petrol on me and set me on fire. I was torched alive. But I managed to burn him too.”
Sentencing Groome, Judge Martin Nolan said his victim had been “basically incinerated” in the attack, in which he incurred severe knife injuries and burns to 96 per cent of his body.
Judge Nolan said it seemed to him that for whatever reason, Groome had “murderous intent” that night.
He reduced the headline sentence to 15 years but said he did not see any reason to impose any suspended element.
“I think if 15 years in prison does not reform him nothing will,” said Judge Nolan.
Derek ‘Bottler’ Devoy, who was also present, is serving a 15-year sentence handed down in 2020 for a series of chilling weapons offences.
The notorious criminal had a meltdown at Cranogue Road, Ballymun, on March 11, 2019 while armed with a machine gun capable of firing 660 rounds a minute and a lethal grenade with a 60ft kill range in his pocket.
Three unarmed gardai confronted ‘Bottler’ in the bathroom of a family home where he had hidden with his weapons.
The officers ended up wrestling in the bath with the paranoid thug as five shots from the powerful 9mm Makarov PM63 RAK submachine gun were discharged and an unpinned Yugoslavian M75 hand grenade rolled around the floor.
Devoy was on the run from multiple gangland enemies at the time and was paranoid he would be killed.
He had been warned by gardai of four separate death threats against him and had survived a botched hit 18 months earlier that left his sister Antoinette Corbally- Devoy, a 48-year-old mother of six, and his friend Clinton Shannon (30) dead in his place.
A fourth high profile inmate present for the New Year’s party was convicted killer Sean Connolly.
Connolly is serving a life sentence for the Real IRA murder of veteran criminal Eamon Kelly in Killester on December 4, 2012.
Connolly was arrested a short time after he shot Kelly four times in the back as he returned home from Ladbrokes betting shop.
A source said prison officers in Portlaoise believe it is likely the inmates had consumed home made ‘hooch’ manufactured by a ‘Polish contingent of inmates’ in the jail.
Prisoners typically make alcohol in their cells by fermenting large amounts of sugary fruit obtained from the canteen or prison shop.
Yeast is added using bread or already rotten fruit before the mixture is placed by a heat source — typically a radiator or kettle — for several days.
However, it has not yet been ruled out that a higher quality of alcohol may also have been smuggled into the prison from the outside.
The Sunday World revealed previously how the supply of contraband, including drugs and phones, into the prison is allegedly controlled by senior Kinahan cartel inmates, including Peadar Keating, and a dissident inmate.
The main contraband route into the prison is believed to be through the prison kitchen.
In June last year, Keating was sacked from his job in the prison kitchen as part of a bid to limit the supply.
Described in court as a “senior member of the cartel”, Keating assumed the mantle of leader of the Kinahan inmates on C-Block after his arrival in the prison.
He is serving an 11-year stretch after admitting in July 2020 to directing the activities of a criminal gang involved in the failed attempt on Hutch associate James ‘Mago’ Gately in 2017.