Investigation Report into the Death In Custody of Alan Ruddy

Published on March 31 2010

The Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland has today published the Investigation Report into the death in prison custody of Mr Alan William Viktor Ruddy, aged 29, in Maghaberry Prison on 31st January 2008.

Pauline McCabe, who made a total of nine recommendations following her investigation, said: “Mr Ruddy died as a result of an accidental overdose of what was described by the independent medical reviewer as, a cocktail of drugs both prescribed and illicit, which had been brought in to the prison.

“The evidence indicated that Mr Ruddy had not intended to take his own life but had inadvertently overdosed by taking a large number of non-prescribed pills of unknown origin, which combined with his prescribed medication to produce fatal effects.”

Pauline McCabe said that following a thorough investigation she was making nine recommendations relating to issues including:

healthcare arrangements upon committal to prison including the need for closer liaison with a prisoner’s general practitioner
review of previous medical history and medication upon committal
follow-up arrangements in relation to prisoners who attempt self harm

Pauline McCabe continued, “Most importantly, I recommend a review of progress of the Prison Service Action Plan in response to its Report on Minimising the Supply of Drugs in Northern Ireland Prisons, which was produced in July 2008.

“I also recommend that the Prison Service and Health Trust further review the arrangements for supporting and referring prisoners with drug addiction problems for specialist services.

“The Prison Service has accepted my recommendations (see Notes to Editors) and we will take time to consider their response. The Trust in Partnership with the NIPS are implementing the recommendations and as with any Death in Custody Investigation, I shall request updates on the implementation of these in line with the action plan provided by the Prison Service.

“Deaths in prison custody are particularly sad events and have a significant impact on everyone involved. My investigation reports are intended to provide the family with answers to their questions.

“I hope that the findings of this Report may also help to prevent similar deaths in future at Maghaberry or elsewhere in the Northern Ireland Prison Service.”

In line with the Prisoner Ombudsman’s Terms of Reference, a copy of the Investigation Report has also been sent to the Coroner.


Further media inquiries should be directed to Janet Devlin or Vicki
Caddy at ASG on 028 9080 2000 or by email to

Notes to editors:

1. The Prisoner Ombudsman terms of reference 
( require her to investigate all deaths in prison custody since September 2005.

2. The Prisoner Ombudsman made a commitment when she took up post in September 2008 to publish all Death in Custody investigation reports. Copies of all reports published to date can be found at

3. When the Office was given this additional role, no extra resources were provided, however the current Prisoner Ombudsman secured some additional resources in summer 2009 and is currently working through a backlog of investigations.

4. In line with the Prisoner Ombudsman Terms of Reference a copy of the Report will also be sent to the Coroner.

5. Investigations are ongoing into a further 8 deaths in prison custody.

6. The NI Prison Service has accepted Recommendations 1,2,3,4 and 7 in part and accepted Recommendations 5 and 6 in principle. Recommendations 8 and 9 have been accepted.

7. The NI Prison Service Action Plan in response to this report will be published on its website: .

Annual Report - April 2010 to March 2011
Death in Custody Summary - Allyn Baxter
Death in Custody Report - Allyn Baxter
Death in Custody Summary - John Deery
Death in Custody Report - John Deery