A prison hospital wing where a Castlerock man contracted a deadly water-borne disease was replaced with a state-of-the-art facility soon afterwards, the Derry Journal has reported.
John Russell, 64, was an inmate at HM Prison Magilligan and a cancer sufferer when his health deteriorated in the prison’s health care centre in January 2007.
He was taken to the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, Northern Ireland by ambulance, where he died 11 days later on 8 February.
A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Russell had contracted a form of Legionnaires’ disease.
At the hearing in Belfast on Monday, staff nurse Karen Boyd told coroner Jim Kitson that on 29 January she checked on Mr Russell and was immediately concerned by his breathing difficulties and blue-tinged lips.
She said that although the building was quite old fashioned, the staff kept it “scrupulously clean” at all times.
Ms Boyd added: “That unit is no longer in use. Things have definitely moved on. The prisoners were moved out and the new unit was opened up.”
At Monday’s hearing, the jury of six men and four women was told that water samples taken from the water supply at the prison health centre “were found to contain the exact same sub-strain” of the legionella bacteria discovered in Mr Russell’s lungs.
Following the death, a detailed investigation by the Health and Safety Executive discovered high levels of legionella bacteria in the unit’s hot and cold water system.
Although this was a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Order, no criminal proceedings could be taken against the Prison Service because of Crown immunity.
The hearing continues.