Prisoners awarded damages over injuries sustained during journey to court

Prisoners Awarded Damages Over Injuries Sustained During Journey To Court
The three prisoners were being transported from Mountjoy Prison to the Central Criminal Court when the prison transport waggon was struck by a food delivery truck. Photo: PA Images
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Ray Managh

Three prisoners, injured while trapped, handcuffed and without safety belts in filthy, cubicle cells in a prison transport waggon, have been awarded damages in the Circuit Civil Court.

The three men were being transported from Mountjoy Prison to the Central Criminal Court on Parkgate Street in Dublin city when the mobile prison was struck by a food delivery truck owned by Lynas Food Services, Lusk, Co Dublin.


Barrister David Burke, who appeared with John M Quinn Solicitors for one of the prisoners, Anthony Ward (33), told Judge Jennifer O’Brien that each of them had suffered soft tissue injuries and had been treated by prison and medical staff before being taken to the Mater Hospital.

Mark Egan (44) was represented by barrister John Scott, with John O’Leary Solicitors, and counsel for Dean Heapes (39) was Rachel McGovern, who appeared with KOD Lyons solicitors.

Each of the prisoners was confined while handcuffed in a 3x2 foot locked cell in the prison waggon, built to carry 12 prisoners at a time with prison staff.

Ben Clarke, counsel for Lynas Food Services, told the court the food delivery company had accepted liability for the incident on September 20th, 2018, and was indemnifying the Prison Service and the Minister for Justice in relation to the three claims of €60,000.


Mr Clarke, who appeared with DWF Solicitors, said the court was being asked to assess damages in what he described as a minimal impact accident in which, he submitted, none of the prisoners could have suffered the injuries they were alleging.

Each of the prisoners told the court they had been handcuffed and locked in the cells when the prison transport had been shunted sideways when struck by the food delivery lorry near the prison.


Forensic engineer David Semple told Judge O’Brien that Heapes, similar to his fellow prisoners, was presented with a trapped situation.

He said the collision, while not of high impact, was capable of causing injury to the occupants of the small cells, particularly when handcuffed and unrestrained.


Forensic engineer Sean Walsh, called on behalf of Lynas Food Services, said six prisoners were being transferred to the courts at the time and handcuffing was normal practice.

He said that although the motion of the prison waggon on impact would have been perceptible to the occupants of the cells, it would not have been a violent movement of the type associated with injury.

Judge O’Brien said a medical consultant who had examined one of the prisoners on behalf of the defendants, stated in a medical report that the prisoner could not have been injured in the manner described and made some comment regarding the mechanism of the cells.

She said this was going beyond the duties of a medical adviser, adding she was going to disregard that aspect of the report.

It had been a reasonably significant impact, the judge said. While she agreed the injuries were minor and recoveries had been speedy, she awarded each prisoner €7,500 in damages.

Judge O’Brien awarded the plaintiffs' District Court costs, together with certificates for counsel and the forensic engineers in each case.

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