Investigation Report into the Death In Custody of John Kenneway

Published on February 17 2010

The Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Pauline McCabe, today made a total of 19 recommendations following her investigation into the death in custody of John Martin Gerard Kenneway at Maghaberry Prison on June 8, 2007.

Releasing her Investigation Report, Mrs McCabe said: “My primary aims are to inform the Coroner of my findings, to address the concerns of John Kenneway’s family and to make recommendations which will help prevent similar deaths in future at Maghaberry or elsewhere in the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

“John Kenneway’s family had several concerns, mostly in relation to the conditions under which he was kept in Maghaberry’s Special Supervision Unit and his medical treatment and access to healthcare while he was incarcerated there.

“Following a thorough investigation informed by the opinion of a range of highly qualified independent experts, I am making 12 recommendations to the Northern Ireland Prison Service and a further seven recommendations relating to healthcare in prison.”

The recommendations relate to three key areas:

Conditions and regime in the Special Supervision Unit (SSU)
The supply of drugs in prison
Issues around the care of prisoners with previous mental illness/ Prisoners at Risk

The Prisoner Ombudsman added: “I note that changes in relation to the facilities and regime in the SSU, addiction services and mental health services have already been implemented and that the Prison Service and Health Trust have developed an Action Plan in response to the recommendations in this Report. This includes target completion dates for the outstanding actions and I will subsequently request confirmation that targets have been met.”

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

Notes to editors:

The Prisoner Ombudsman terms of reference require her to investigate all deaths in prison custody since September 2005.
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
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.
In line with the Prisoner Ombudsman Terms of Reference a copy of the Report will also be sent to the Coroner.
Investigations are ongoing into a further 10 deaths in prison custody.