Solicitor claims negligence in Limerick prison death

The solicitor for a 20 year old man who died after falling ill in Limerick prison claims that negligence by prison authorities may have contributed to his death.

Kenneth Kelly, the stepson of Sean Keane, brother of dead criminal Kieran Keane, died in the Mid Western regional hospital after he was found unconscious in his cell in Limerick prison on the morning of Sunday 7 May.

Kenneth Kelly's cellmate noticed he was having breathing difficulties during the night, and spent “three hours banging on the door” trying to alert prison authorities to Kenneth Kelly's condition, but with no success, Kenneth Kelly's solicitor said.

“There was no response from the prison authorities, so he just gave up,” said John Devane, the solicitor acting on behalf the Kelly family.

Shortly before he died, Kenneth Kelly made allegations to a Limerick newspaper that members of Limerick prison staff were supplying prisoners with contraband material, including drugs, the solicitor said.

Kenneth Kelly suffered from Crohn's disease, used a colostomy bag, and required medication, but his needs were not adequately met, his solicitor said.

“I asked for an order from the judge that he receive whatever medical attention he needed when in prison. I got that order but it was ignored. He was not given the necessary equipment to change his colostomy bag properly, and he had difficulty getting the right medication,” said John Devane.

It is not yet known how how Kenneth Kelly died, but one Limerick newspaper wrote that his death came about as a result of a heroin overdose.

His solicitor, John Devane, disputes this claim.

“Kenneth Kelly did not use heroin. His family say he did not do heroin and they believe that the prison authorities are responsible for Kenneth's death,” he said.

The results of his post-mortem will not be ready for another month.

John Devane has written to the prison authorities and the Minister for Justice about the case to demand a public inquiry.

Limerick prison sources rejected John Devane's claims, telling the Limerick Post that his suggestions were “far-fetched and ridiculous”, advising him to “go straight to the Garda if he believes he has information relating to a crime”.

Kenneth Kelly, from Oliver Plunkett Street in St Mary's Park in Limerick, was a father of one, and was jailed for eight months for handling a stolen laptop, public order offences and driving without insurance. He was due to stand trial for possession of €10,000 worth of cocaine.