Investigation report into the death in custody of Francis Gerard McAlary

Published on March 14 2012

The Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Pauline McCabe, today published her report into the death of 49-year-old Francis Gerard McAlary, who died by suicide on Saturday 25 December 2010 after being released on bail from Maghaberry Prison on Tuesday 21 December 2010.

The report found Mr McAlary had a history of mental health which indicated
an increased risk of self-harm or suicide. His demeanor within prison created
concern about his immediate well-being on a number of occasions and Mr
McAlary spent the majority of his time in custody within the in-patient
healthcare centre in Maghaberry where he was reviewed by a psychiatrist on
22 occasions. An independent clinical review found that Mr McAlary’s
standard of psychiatric care whilst in prison was comparable to that which
exists in psychiatric services outside prison.

Nonetheless Mr. McAlary was vulnerable on his release and this was not
adequately identified or possible risks communicated to his GP. In particular,
the report found that important information relating to his mental health
treatment during his time in prison was insufficiently detailed within the
discharge letter provided to Mr. McAlary’s general practitioner. If the full extent
of his vulnerability had been known, his risks might have been managed
differently by McAlary’s GP and community psychiatrist following his release
on bail.

Releasing the report, Mrs. McCabe said:
“Overall, my investigation found that significant efforts were made, by
healthcare staff in particular, to address Mr McAlary’s mental problems and to
manage his medication effectively. The efforts of the Psychiatrist who cared
for him were particularly conscientious and thoughtful.