Prison bosses don’t believe gran jailed for calling refugees ‘rapists’ was attacked behind bars

Margaret Buttimer claimed she had been assaulted while praying in her cell

Margaret Buttimer. Photo: Michael MacSweeney/Cork Courts

Margaret Buttimer had claimed she was assaulted

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

Prison authorities do not believe a jailed grandmother who appeared in court sporting two black eyes and a bruised face was the victim of an assault in her cell.

Sources say inquiries into allegations previously made in court by 68-year-old Margaret Buttimer that she was assaulted by her cellmate, indicate her injuries occurred as a result of a fall or similar “mishap.”

The Sunday World further understands that no prisoner has been subjected to P19 disciplinary proceedings as a result of Buttimer’s claims.

On Friday, Buttimer received a 16-week jail term for causing “a scene” at a hotel accommodating Ukrainian refugees, with a court hearing she was shouting that they were “rapists and criminals”.

During a previous sitting, Buttimer – who had been on remand in Limerick Prison – alleged she had sustained two black eyes and bruises to her chin and mouth when she was “standing with the Lord”.

Margaret Buttimer had claimed she was assaulted

Buttimer said she had been in her cell, which she shared with two other women, and had been praying.

“One of the people, the girls, she began tearing up the holy bible and burning the leaves,” she said.

“She took two crosses off the rosary beads and burnt them.

“I stood over her and I was praying to myself. This went on for a few hours.”

Buttimer said that at 2am another cellmate told her to go to bed.

“I said no one tells me to go to bed. So, I sat in the chair.

“So, she punched me in the head, she assaulted me inside the cell.”

Sources have since confirmed to the Sunday World that authorities in Limerick Prison have carried out a probe into the claims.

“The results of those inquiries do not substantiate allegations that an assault took place,” the source said.

“The belief is these injuries may have occurred as a result of a fall or similar mishap but did not involve an assault by a third party.”

The source said a decision was later made to move Buttimer to a single cell for her own welfare and in order to avoid allegations of a similar nature being made against any other inmate.

A spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service said it does not comment on queries relating to individual inmates.

The charges against Buttimer related to allegations she attended the hotel in Bandon and demanded to know how many Ukrainians were accommodated there and the cost to the Irish public.

She refused requests to leave, including from gardaí, the court was told.

She was previously convicted in January of similar offences at the same venue and was sentenced last month to 28 days in prison.

Buttimer had pleaded not guilty to the two public order offences before the court on Friday.

Gardai had attended at the hotel at 3.05pm on January 26 following reports of a woman causing a disturbance there.

On arrival, they encountered Buttimer demanding to know how many Ukrainians were staying at the hotel, what the cost was, and heard her state that “these Ukrainians are rapists and criminals.”

Judge McNulty found charges of engaging in offensive conduct and failure to comply with a direction of gardaí proven.

He sentenced her to 16 weeks in prison, backdated to when she entered custody.

Half of her sentence was suspended on condition that she keep the peace.

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