| -2°C Dublin

legal action Triple killer John Cullen sues prison service over claims he contracted illness in jail

Cullen was sentenced to life in prison in 1983 for one of the most notorious crimes in Irish history.


John Cullen

John Cullen

John Cullen

Convicted killer and ex-pimp John Cullen is suing the Irish Prison Service over a claim he contracted TB during his 37-years in prison.

Cullen, who was pictured by the Sunday World in 2014 enjoying temporary release from prison, initiated proceedings against the Prison Service earlier this month.

Sources have confirmed to this newspaper that Cullen’s case is a personal injuries claim arising out of a diagnosis for tuberculosis.

TB is a serious respiratory disease and is caused by a bacterium that is passed by droplet infection, for example, breathing in droplets sneezed or coughed by someone with the condition.

The former pimp’s legal case comes as he is now approaching his 38th year behind bars and at a time when he believes he is closing in on a full licensed release from prison.

The Sunday World first snapped notorious killer Cullen back on the streets of Dublin in 2014, 31 years after he burned Dolores Lynch, her elderly mother and aunt to death in an arson attack.

The images struck terror into the hearts of the courageous women who gave evidence against Cullen and helped put him behind bars.

In 2014, we revealed how vile Cullen had been out on the streets without any prison escort on his way between jail and a training workshop in Santry.

When we approached him and asked if he’d anything to say to his victims’ family, the then 63-year-old took a bite of his chocolate bar, grunted in disgust, and kept walking along the Swords Road.

The sicko chose to make the 6km stroll back to Mountjoy on foot – instead of taking the bus – and was clearly enjoying the spring sunshine as he ambled amid an unsuspecting public.

Career criminal Cullen earned a reputation as an erratic and dangerous pimp in the 70s and 80s.

He wreaked terrible revenge on Dolores Lynch who had dared to stand up to him by setting fire to her house as she slept.

The brave woman – who had stopped working as a prostitute years before – had given evidence against Cullen years earlier and he swore to get his revenge.

He made a homemade incendiary bomb using petrol, sugar and firelighters.

His trial heard how after starting the fire he joked to a friend: “I hope it was the right house.”

Cullen was sentenced to life in prison in 1983.

Cullen’s claim for having contracted TB behind bars is now the first legal case the Irish Prison Service has had to contend with as a result of outbreaks within the prison system.

Latest records show a total of 35 cases of tuberculosis (TB) among prisoners and prison officers in the Irish penal system were notified to the HSE over a 10-year period dating from 2007 to 2016.

The 35 cases notified to the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre included 26 prisoners and nine prison officers.

The highest number was in 2011 when 18 cases of TB, including five prison officers, were confirmed with an outbreak in a prison in the HSE East division, at Cloverhill Prison in Dublin.

The second highest number of cases occurred in 2014 when six cases involving prisoners were notified to the HSE.

Between 2007 and 2009 there were two cases each year, three in 2012, one the following year and one in 2016. No cases were identified in 2010 or 2015.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors