NewsInvestigations

Revealed: State facing huge bill over jail compo claims

InvestigationsBy Robin Schiller
Huge compo bill for prisoners who get hurt behind bars
Huge compo bill for prisoners who get hurt behind bars

The Irish taxpayer is forking out more than €350,000 a year in compensation to prisoners who get hurt behind bars.

Convicts serving time in prisons across the country have taken claims for a wide range of reasons – including assaults, emotional distress, injuring themselves using gym equipment and falling while playing football.

The most recent figures available show that an average of €355k a year has been paid to more than 60 prisoners in the last number of years.

The claims range from the outlandish to serious physical assaults, with one inmate being paid €150,000 after being slashed in a prison attack. 

Peter Creighton (38), became the first person to be awarded damages by the High Court for injuries sustained in an attack while in custody. 

He had been assaulted in an overcrowded area in Wheatfield Prison in 2003 and suffered severe gashes to his face and body – totalling 78cm – leaving him scarred for life.     

He sued the State for negligence and breach of duty, claiming the system for bringing prisoners from the cells to receive methadone was dangerous.

The overcrowding in the area allowed attacks of that kind to happen, he claimed. 

 

He also said there should have been adequate security measures to prevent the kind of knives used in the attack from getting into the prison.     

Another inmate attempted to sue the State for compensation after part of a weight-lifting machine dropped on his ring finger.

Patrick O’Leary (47), from Churchfield in Cork, said that his hand got stuck while lifting weights with another inmate at the Midlands Prison.

However, the judge dismissed the case because of inconsistencies in O’Leary’s case, stating that he was lucky that costs weren’t awarded against him.  

In previous years a prisoner who sprained his wrist after slipping on a wet floor received €5,000, while another prisoner was injured while playing football in an exercise yard and was awarded €4,500 in compensation.

In another successful compensation claim, a prisoner who cut his hand on the corner of a dryer was awarded over €2,000.

One of the country’s most violent prisoners is also suing the State for alleged ill-treatment while he was behind bars.

Leroy Dumbrell launched a High Court legal action against the State, the Minister for Justice, the Irish Prison Service (IPS) and the governor of Castlerea Prison.

Although the exact grounds for the case are not known, it is believed the dangerous thug alleges that he was detained in inhumane conditions when he was held in solitary confinement in the Co. Roscommon prison when he was there from December 2009 to August 2010.

He was transferred to Castlerea after he orchestrated riots in Mountjoy, an offence for which he received a suspended sentence in October 2012.      

The Sunday World also previously revealed how Ireland’s most dangerous thug is suing the Irish Prison Service just months after being assaulted behind bars.   

 

The Athlone rapist – who is serving five life sentences for raping two little girls he lured from a birthday party – lodged papers in the High Court on Monday last.

Court records obtained by the Sunday World reveal the sick sex attacker is suing the IPS, together with two other named individuals.

The case comes six months after the pervert suffered injuries to his testicles after he was assaulted by another sex attacker in the Midlands Prison.    

Some 800 criminals have also taken cases against the State because they were forced to ‘slop out’ in their prison cells.

Among those current and former prisoners claiming that their ‘right to dignity’ had been breached is Limerick gang leader Christy Keane, who served 10 years in Portlaoise Prison for drugs possession.

If the claims are approved, the taxpayer could be facing a massive legal bill – as each plaintiff could be entitled to between €5,000 to €10,000.