Maghaberry: Sack staff 'who watched my son blind himself'

Derry man Sean Lynch, and father, Damien, who blinded himself in Maghaberry prison Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Sean Lynch, pictured with his father, Damien, who said the ombudsman's report offered 'no comfort'

The father of a mentally ill prisoner has called for the sacking of prison staff who failed to intervene as his son blinded himself.

Sean Lynch, 23, used his fingers and thumbs to damage his eyes while being held in Maghaberry Prison, a high-security jail in Northern Ireland.

A report by NI's Prisoner Ombudsman has said Mr Lynch inflicted "extreme and shocking" self-harm over three days.

Mr Lynch's father said his son was "neglected and failed".

The ombudsman's report said on the third day of the "ordeal", two prison officers watched as he injured himself on more than 20 occasions over a period of an hour.

"I wouldn't stand back and watch a dog do what Sean was doing, " Mr Lynch said.

He said that "everything had been taken" away from his son and that the report offered "no comfort".

"His sight is completely gone, his life is completely gone," he said.

"Why didn't they just enter the cell and handcuff him?"

Image caption Inmate Sean Lynch inflicted 'extreme and shocking' self-harm over a three-day period at Northern Ireland's high security jail, Maghaberry Prison

He said the Prison Service had not offered any apology to his son or family.

"The only thing we have had from the Prison Service is a court summons for Sean for allegedly assaulting a prison officer."

The report said the incident in June 2014 followed the deterioration of Mr Lynch's mental health in the community "and increasingly bizarre behaviour in prison".

Despite a detailed forensic medical officer's assessment, suggesting that formal psychiatric assessment was an "absolute necessity", the prisoner was treated as a "routine" referral.

The director general of the prison service, Sue McAllister, said it was the most extreme case of self-harming she had experienced in 30 years working in prisons.

"But this is not about apportioning blame or apologising," she said.

She offered to meet Sean Lynch and his family if they wished.

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