Saunders Law secures release of paralysed prisoner

A paralysed and cognitively impaired man has secured release from prison on compassionate grounds after being detained for a period of nine months in what he argued were dangerous and inhuman conditions.


Mr M sustained catastrophic life changing injuries in a shooting incident five years ago. He was left with major neurological impairments including partial paralysis, reduced cognitive function and incontinence. As a result he is wheelchair bound and requires 24 hour specialist care to meet his medical and care needs. Until his detention this care was expertly provided by his wife and family who underwent intensive training.


Much to the shock of his family Mr M was arrested and taken to prison in a police van after being recalled to prison for an offence of theft committed some 18 years ago - before he became disabled. Upon arrival at prison Mr M became seriously unwell and was transferred to hospital where he underwent brain surgery and spent a further three months recovering. Despite his serious injuries and the prison's healthcare providers clear inability to meet Mr M's needs, he was then transferred back to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.


During his time in prison Mr M was said to have been left alone in a locked cell where he was at risk of fitting and falling. He received no physiotherapy and complained that he was frequently left for hours in wet and soiled sheets, as staff were often unable to answer his calls for help with going to the toilet. The impairment of Mr M's memory was such that he sometimes forgot about his disability and would try to do things himself, often resulting in a fall and risk of further injury.


At one point, Mr M also had his phone calls taken away as a punishment and was put on closed visits. Mr M lacked capacity to make decisions for himself, and the daily telephone calls with his wife and her visits to him in prison were the only way she could reliably monitor her husband's welfare, with her enquiries and those of his solicitor often going ignored.


Mr M's solicitor Saoirse Kerrigan had the following to say:


"Mr M's family were beside themselves with worry while he was in prison and quite frankly, so was I. His needs clearly could not be met in a safe and dignified manner in the prison environment and attempts to do so were dangerous and humiliating beyond belief. The first time I met Mr M he was handcuffed to a prison officer in a hospital bed. While in prison he was left for hours in wet and soiled sheets.


"Mr M clearly posed no risk to anyone, and any risk he might imaginably have posed was far outweighed by the indignity and danger he was exposed to for reasons that are still unknown to us. Not to mention the cost to the taxpayer of keeping him in prison."


Mr M challenged his detention by way of Judicial Review and is now finally with his family where he is trying to recover from his ordeal. We are advising Mr M in relation to civil proceedings against those responsible for his arrest, detention and treatment.


Mr M is represented by Saoirse Kerrigan of Saunders Law Ltd and Alison Gerry of Doughty Street Chambers.


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