Terence Wheelock: died in 2005

TWENTY-eight people have died after being arrested or taken into garda custody during the past decade, it has emerged.

The numbers dying in garda stations appear to be on the rise with four deaths recorded already this year. Many involved natural causes or where a prisoner took their own life, but the numbers involved are a cause of concern to campaigners.

Mark Kelly of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said: "Tragically people do die while in custody and in most instances the fact that they have died is no reflection of abuse or ill-treatment.

"However, there is a duty on agents of the state to take care of their welfare and with people with health conditions or at risk of suicide, it is especially important that that duty is performed."

Four of the deaths took place at Store Street garda station, including the unexplained incident that saw Terence Wheelock lapse into a coma from which he never awoke. A further three deaths were recorded at Tallaght garda station, according to figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune.

Two of the deaths at Tallaght took place this year when an unnamed male and another man, Antonio Nunes, died. Another death occurred at Templemore garda station where Johnny Nevin had been taken after his family called emergency services and asked for him to be taken to hospital. A fourth death also occurred at Dundalk garda station.

Senior gardaí said some level of deaths in custody was inevitable, considering the type of people who frequently end up in custody. Six deaths were recorded during the course of 2007, the single worst year for deaths in custody. Five people died in cells and stations with a sixth fatality recorded during a garda raid on a house in Gurranabraher, Co Cork.

One of the deaths occurred after detention at Coolock garda station where the notorious criminal Dwayne Foster was being questioned about the shooting of young mother Donna Cleary, who was hit by a stray shot fired into a house party.

Two deaths were recorded in 2009, 2006 and 2005 with no fatalities listed for 2008. Four people died in 2004, three in 2003, two in 2002 (including the controversial death of young Brian Rossiter), and three in 2001.