A Derry man, who claims the Northern Ireland Prison Service is partly to blame for him gouging his own eyes out with his bare hands has said he will not rest until those responsible are brought to justice.
Sean Lynch, 23, who is now permanently blind as a result, was on remand for breaching bail, in Maghaberry Prison in June, but after a string of alleged incidents, which included Sean slitting his own throat, wrists and mutilating his own testicles, he was admitted to the psychiatric unit in Gransha Hospital.
“It’s a lovely sunny day today and I can’t see the blue sky nor will I ever see my loved ones ever again. I will not rest until I get justice - no other family should ever have to go through what I went through.”
Sean was released from Gransha Hospital last Tuesday and is back living in the family home in the Waterside.
Sean claims that whilst in Maghaberry prison, several attempts to make the authorities aware of his deteriorating mental health went unanswered.
In fact, last month, The Derry Journal ran a story detailing how Sean’s father, Damien, believes the sharp object used by his son to mutilate his testicles was left in his son’s cell for him to find.
“I will never rest until I get justice for what happened to me. I was failed by so many people from so many different organisations. The staff at Maghaberry were supposed to look after me but instead they were found wanting.
“I thought I was going to die in prison and the only way I was going to get out of there was either in a box or if I harmed myself so badly that they [the prison staff] would have to take me to hospital.”
Sean suffered horrendous injuries to his body over a seven day period in June.
The first night Sean was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital he had attempted to take his own life by slitting his throat and his wrists.
After receiving treatment Sean claims he was put back into the same cell in Maghaberry.
The following night Sean mutilated his testicles and suffered heavy bleeding.
Again, he was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital and again, after treatment, he claims he was returned to the same cell once again.
“I couldn’t believe what I was going through - I thought I wouldn’t see the next day so I sat down and started to pull at my eyeballs with my hands,” he said emotionally.
Sean was then taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he underwent surgery to save his sight, all of which was unsuccessful.
“I’ll never see my loved ones again - that’s something I will have to live with for the rest of my life. What has happened has not only changed my life but it’s changed my family’s life too,” he said.
Sean’s case is currently being investigated by the Northern Ireland Prison Ombudsman and the Lynch family have received much political support from local independent councillor, Gary Donnelly, SDLP MLA for Foyle, Pat Ramsey and MP for Foyle Mark Durkan.
“I am speaking out now for the first time because I do not want any other prisoner or family to have to go through what I went through.
“I will not rest and my family will never rest until those who failed me are brought to justice.
“I’ll never see again and no matter how long I will never ever be able to get used to it - I’ll just have to take one day at a time,” said Sean.