'barrier handling' | 

Prison staff forced to don riot gear for one of Ireland’s most dangerous inmates following breakdown

Violent thug has breakdown after mum’s death.

Stephen Egan killed a young inmate in Mountjoy in 2016

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

One of Ireland’s most dangerous inmates is now the subject of ‘barrier handling’ at all times when he leaves his cell — after suffering a breakdown following the death of his mother before Christmas.

Stephen Egan — who beat fellow inmate Gary Douch to death in the basement of Mountjoy Prison in 2007 — spent the Christmas period in a padded cell on A-wing in Portlaoise Prison after becoming extremely volatile following the death of his mum on December 14.

One of the State’s most troubled inmates, a source said Egan repeatedly covered himself with his own excrement and repeatedly threatened staff when they attempted to help him.

The source said Egan was removed from the padded cell earlier this week but now requires barrier handling due to the danger he poses to staff.

Barrier handling involves an inmate being escorted by officers clad in full riot gear at all times when outside his cell.

“Egan had made threats against loads of staff,” the source said.

“Staff in A Block are overwhelmed and fear for their safety daily.

“The feeling is that he does not belong in a prison at all.

“He should be moved to the Central Mental Hospital — there is a ward there for prisoners in the new facility in Portrane but officers have been told they don’t have the staff to man it.

“Prison officers are being left to deal with him when it’s plain to be seen that unless he gets the help he needs he’s going to seriously hurt either a staff member or another inmate.”

Stephen Egan is currently serving a life sentence for the manslaughter of Gary Douch in 2006.

Douch was killed on July 31 that year when he was brutally assaulted by Egan in a cell at Mountjoy, in front of five other inmates.

At Egan’s trial, John Aylmer, counsel for the defence, said his client admitted beating Mr Douche to death that morning in Cell 2, B Base.

But he said his client had a mental illness, which diminished his responsibility.

In April 2009, Egan was convicted of manslaughter, due to diminished responsibility.

He was later sentenced to life imprisonment.

A commission of inquiry later concluded that Douch’s death could have been avoided, but acknowledged that it would be unfair to regard the tragedy as being caused by one person or service.

The commission found that Douch’s death was due to an avoidable “systems” failure, compounded by the non-compliance with or disregard for some of the prison rules, orders and policies.

This was found to be the norm rather than the exception.

It said the authorities at Mountjoy and Cloverhill jails at the time must bear considerable responsibility for what had tragically taken place as their systems had failed to identify and appropriately manage Egan’s risk to others.

The report outlined how Douch (21) had been sharing a cell on July 31, 2006 but asked to be moved to a “protection” wing because he feared he was going to be attacked.

He was transferred to a basement cell, sharing it with Egan and five others.

His unconscious body was found by prison officers the following morning.

Justice Minister of the day Alan Shatter issued an apology to the dead man’s family on behalf of the State and the Irish Prison Service.

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