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HMP inmates call for full investigation into death of Seamus Flynn

Seamus Flynn, 35, died Saturday after he was taken from Her Majesty's Penitentiary to the hospital. (Seamus Flynn/Facebook - image credit)
Seamus Flynn, 35, died Saturday after he was taken from Her Majesty's Penitentiary to the hospital. (Seamus Flynn/Facebook - image credit)

Inmates at Her Majesty's Penitentiary say they want a thorough investigation into what happened to Seamus Flynn, the 35-year-old man who died after being transported from the prison to the hospital on the weekend.

The Department of Justice and Public Safety confirmed Sunday that a man died after being taken to the hospital Saturday. The statement did not indicate the cause of death.

Multiple sources confirmed Flynn's identity to CBC News. He leaves behind a longtime partner and child.

"We want a full investigation done into his death," said Richard Driscoll, who is on remand while awaiting trial for armed robbery.

Driscoll is a range representative — an inmate who acts as a spokesperson for specific areas of the prison population.

"[Flynn] is not forgotten; he was one of us and we're one of the public," Driscoll said in a telephone interview from HMP on Monday.

"A [member of the] public just died with us. So that's what's going on. We're people from the public, we got a voice. We want to be heard."

Driscoll said the range representatives at HMP were invited to a meeting with the prison's psychologist and addictions counsellor Saturday afternoon, where they were told Flynn died of a "sickness."

Inmates had a moment of silence after returning to the range, Driscoll said.

"Everybody shared a couple of stories of how we helped him or had a laugh," he said. "And we gave a round of applause and wished him some peace."

Driscoll said there is an influenza-like illness spreading throughout the prison. Another inmate in a separate area of the prison who spoke with CBC News said the same.

However, Driscoll said inmates "really need to be dying to get to the hospital" because there are too few staff to take them.

Heard calls for help Friday evening

While the illness could be influenza,  Driscoll also points to a litany of other health and safety concerns — such as a rampant rodent infestation and the presence of black mould so severe it's shut down the prison's visiting room.

"Everybody in the prison is sick and it's crippling everybody. Laundry is not getting done. Nobody's sanitizing the areas," Driscoll said.

"If he died of his sickness, how come how come it's not mandatory every inmate got to wear your masks?"

Driscoll said his range, which is directly one floor above Flynn's, was notified at 8:20 p.m. NT Friday they would be getting locked in their cells for the remainder of the night because of a hospital run.

New additions have been built on to Her Majesty's Penitentiary over the years, but the original structure dates back to 1869.
New additions have been built on to Her Majesty's Penitentiary over the years, but the original structure dates back to 1869.

New additions have been built on to Her Majesty's Penitentiary over the years, but the original structure dates back to 1869. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

More than an hour later, Driscoll said he heard panicked screams and banging from the cells below him.

"They were saying, 'Get him out of here. He's gotta go. What's going on?' I thought that maybe they were, like, getting rid of somebody, but here they were screaming for an inmate to get out to save his life."

When asked about health concerns at HMP, Justice Department spokesperson Eric Humber said in an emailed statement that there is an entire medical team delivering "timely access to care" in correctional facilities.

"The teams include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, pastoral-care clinicians, social workers, a clinical pharmacist, a clinical psychologist and psychiatrists," Humber wrote.

Humber also pointed to outside community agencies that run programs within HMP, like the Canadian Mental Health Association, John Howard Society, Turnings and Doorways.

2nd death since August

Flynn is the second inmate at Her Majesty's Penitentiary to die in four months.

A man was found dead in the prison on Aug. 22. The Department of Justice did not provide any details of the cause or manner of death in that case.

Four other inmates have died within HMP walls in recent years, three of them from suicide.

The St. John's Telegram reported in 2018 that Flynn was ordered to undergo counselling for his IV substance use, in addition to receiving a provincial jail sentence on charges of extortion and fraud.

Flynn was set to be released this week but was expected to return to prison on a variety of charges, including flight from police, theft, fraud, failure to comply with court orders, failure to attend court and possession of a weapon.

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