A Derry man has been left permanently blind after inflicting a number of horrific injuries on himself while on remand at Maghaberry prison, the Journal has learned.
Sean Lynch, in his 20s and from the cityside, is currently in hospital receiving treatment for the injuries - which are believed to have occurred while he was on a special watch at the prison. It is thought the young man inflicted a series of injuries on himself on different occasions.
“When he went into prison there was not a mark on him when I got him back he was like something out of a Nazi death camp’ was the reaction of his father.
Damian Lynch was speaking after his son Sean was finally released on bail to go straight to Gransha Hospital after a series of incidents where the 23-year-old cut his wrists and throat, mutilated his testicles and finally gouged his own eyes out.
Accusing the prison authorities of ‘absolute neglect’ Damian Lynch said his son was never given the attention he was promised and is now blind for life.
He said: “When Sean was first charged the police doctor was so concerned she contacted me to say she was sending a letter to the prison authorities about Sean’s mental health.
“If the prison authorities received this letter they certainly did not act on it.”
Mr. Lynch recalled the incidents which started at the beginning of June. He said: “On the night of June 2/3 Sean cut his wrists and his throat and was taken out stitched up and returned to his cell.
“When we saw him the next day he had a black eye and staples in his head which we could not get an explanation about.
“As he walked towards us I couldn’t believe what I was seeing he was in such a bad state.
“The mental health nurse even phoned me they were that concerned and said that Sean would be under the care of three nurses in close supervision.”
Mr. Lynch continued: “Then on Wednesday night Sean mutilated his own testicles.
“He was taken to Craigavon Hospital and stitched up but then he was taken back to Maghaberry and returned to his cell.
“A senior member of staff even phoned me to say he was surprised Sean had been returned to his care and that he should have been taken away to somewhere else for treatment.
“But again we were told that a close eye would be kept on Sean and nothing more would happen.
“At 4 a.m. on the Friday morning I received a phone call to tell me Sean was in the Royal Victoria Hospital and that he had gouged his eyes out.
“I was initially told that he had lost sight in his left eye and damage in the right but in fact he is now totally blind.
“He was kept in the Royal for a week and then on Friday we got him released on bail and he went straight to Gransha where he is now - blind.
“There were clear signals that my son was not well and they were ignored by the prison staff and the hospital authorities.
“Sean should never have been returned to prison as if there was nothing wrong.
“Even after Sean was taken to the Royal the prison authorities still behaved in a petty and mean way.
“I stayed with my son all week and then on the Friday a senior officer came and told me I was barred although he would not identify himself.
“Had they not neglected my son enough without this?”
Yesterday independent republican councillor Gary Donnelly brought Mr. and Mrs Lynch to Belfast to meet with an all party group of TD’s who he says were ‘shocked’ at what they heard.
He said: “I brought them up to tell their story and the TDs were shocked at what had happened and said they would look into it.
“I think the treatment of this young man is a disgrace and the prison staff who were obviously negligent in his care should be suspended pending a full investigation.”