PRISON chiefs have launched an investigation into the death of a 27-year-old inmate in Magilligan jail.
The prisoner died on Monday morning while in hospital and his next of kin have been informed.
An investigation into the cause of death has been launched by the PSNI, Coroner and Prisoner Ombudsman.
He is the first prisoner to die in the North of Ireland prisons this year.
Ronnie Armour, Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, said: “On behalf of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, I would like to extend my sympathy to the family of the prisoner. My thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”
John Dallat, SDLP MLA for East Londonderry, passed on his condolences to the prisoner’s family.
“I’m sure the authorities at Magilligan will also be deeply distressed that someone under their watch has died, albeit in hospital,” he said.
“I welcome the investigation but prisoners are often vulnerable people.
“It’s so unfortunate when any of them die while in the care of the authorities.
“I visited the prison recently. The place is crying out for capital investment, but the staff at Magilligan do aspire to have people leave in a much better state than when they came in.
“Many of them leave with trades and go straight into jobs.
“So obviously when you hear depressing news like this it’s all the harder.
“This is another family that has been given bad news, but until the investigation is completed we can’t say much more.”
There are currently around 440 prisoners at the medium-security jail near Limavady.
In 2018, an inspection report said conditions at Magilligan had seen a massive improvement over the past three years.
The increased availability of educational and vocational training for prisoners was among the changes highlighted.
While there was further praise for a positive culture between staff and prisoners, the inspectors added that concerns remained over the availability of illegal and prescription drugs, as well as a trend of poorer outcomes in key areas for Catholic prisoners.