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Prisoner sues the State after van is rammed in attempted breakout

Gardaí believe the incident was an attempt by a criminal gang to free one of the prisoners
The prison van was transporting inmates from a court sitting in Co Monaghan to Wheatfield Prison

The prison van was transporting inmates from a court sitting in Co Monaghan to Wheatfield Prison

Sunday World

A prisoner is suing the State after a van he was being transported in was rammed in an attempted breakout last month.

Darren Winters (24) has alleged he did not receive proper medical treatment after the prison van that was transporting inmates from a court sitting in Co Monaghan to Wheatfield Prison was struck from behind by a gold BMW X5 on June 15.

According to The Irish Times, gardaí believe the incident, which occurred N2 at Kilcrow, Clontribbet, in Co Monaghan, was an attempt by a criminal gang to free one of the prisoners.

But the masked occupants of the car that was bearing false number plates, aborted their plan after hitting the van.

The car, which had been stolen before the breakout attempt, was found burnt out a short time later.

Both prison staff and prisoners were injured and Winters, who was one of them, has been granted leave to take a judicial review against the Irish Prison Service (IPS) and the State after he alleged they had failed to properly treat his injuries.

Winters (24), from Cuirt Droim Ard, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, is serving a sentence for reckless endangerment, but the Times reports that gardaí believe it is unlikely he was the target of the breakout attempt.

Winters’ solicitor Ciaran Mulholland, alleged his client suffered a head injury in the crash and was only treated with ibuprofen.

In a court filing, he also says the prisoner was not allowed to see a doctor while the injured prison officers were taken straight to hospital.

According to a grounding affidavit, the prison van was hit by an “unidentified and untraced motorist”.

Winters who was seated in a confined cubicle in the back, handcuffed and with no seat belt, hit his head off the wall in front of him.

He was left with a cut and swelling and was later brought back to the prison in a Garda van.

The affidavit claims that he repeatedly asked to see a doctor but with no success.

A prison official wrote to Mr Mulholland saying he had received the appropriate medical treatment, after Winters’s solicitor raised concerns with prison authorities.

According to a report from a doctor who examined Winters via video-link a month later, the prisoner said he was left in the prison van “for what seemed like hours on a very hot day”.

Winters told the doctor he later developed a terrible headache and suffered stiffness in his neck, which made it hard to move.

The report says that he requested to see the prison doctor three times but was refused. The examining doctor said a suspected head injury should be examined by a doctor, possibly using a CT scan.

“I would also note that while the prison guards, who were possibly restrained by seat belts, had to be taken by hospital by ambulance, the unrestrained claimant was not given the same consideration.”

Winters is seeking several orders including damages, a declaration his rights were breached and an order compelling the IPS to arrange for appropriate treatment.

“This is not an isolated matter. It’s magnified by the difference in medical treatment provided to prison staff and prisoners arising from the same event,” Mr Mulholland told The Irish Times.

“The substandard medical treatment provided to prisoners in custody warrants an independent review and is another reason why it’s imperative the Minister now establish a prisoner ombudsman akin to other EU countries. This is long overdue,” he said.

An IPS spokesman said it would not comment as the matter was before the courts.

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