Midlands Prison inmates face paying gang bosses €200k fine for seized jail phones
“A lot of these inmates are now extremely worried because when they took the handset they were told a debt of €6,000 would be owed if they lost it”
Yesterday at 12:30
Fresh details surrounding the seizure of an unprecedented 33 phones – including brand new iPhones – on two landings in the Midlands Prison can be revealed for the first time today.
The organisers of the ring had issued prisoners, assigned the handsets, with strict instructions on how and where the phones were to be hidden in the cells and outlined a massive debt that would be owed in the event a phone was seized.
A source said: “Each of the phones had been hidden inside the leg of a bed in the inmates’ cells. D-wing is a relatively new building, where the beds are bolted to the floor.
“The inmates had obtained Allen keys from the workshop to remove the bolts on one of the legs and lift it up so the phone could be placed inside for use when required.
“A lot of these inmates are now extremely worried because when they took the handset they were told a debt of €6,000 would be owed if they lost it.
“Wednesday evening’s seizure means inmates on D2 and D3 are potentially on the hook for almost €200,000 between them.
“It doesn’t matter how the phones were lost … all that matters is who had been given the handsets when they were seized.”
Among the prime suspects nominated as ‘masterminds’ behind the smuggling ring are a number of criminals associated with Limerick’s notorious McCarthy Dundon crime faction.
During the intelligence led search, which took place at 5 pm on Wednesday, 25 phones were recovered from the D2 landing – alongside chargers, Sim cards and drug paraphernalia which included a bag of syringes.
D2 houses some of the most notorious Limerick criminals in the system. Among those incarcerated on D3 are Christy Costello, John Coughlan and James Dillon.
Christopher Costello, of the McCarthy-Dundon crime gang, is serving lifefor the murder of rival crime boss Kieran Keane in 2003
John Coughlan, (35), of Pineview Gardens, Moyross, Limerick, is serving life imprisonment for the murder of father-of-two Daniel Treacy, (35), at the Topaz garage, Caherdavin, Limerick, February 22, 2010.
And James Dillon is serving life for the murder of innocent Limerick businessman Roy Collins.
Mr Collins, a 35-year-old father of two, who was engaged to be married, died in hospital a short time after he was shot at Coin Castle Amusements, Roxboro Road on April 9, 2009.
Mr. Collins’s father, Steve Collins, had been targeted by the Dundons, due to his involvement in a previous successful prosecution against Wayne Dundon for a threat to kill.
Dundon ordered the murder from prison using a contraband mobile phone.
During a search of the D3 landing, eight phones were recovered, including THREE brand new iPhones, Sim cards, USB sticks and chargers.
One of the new iPhones, together with an envelope containing five sim cards, was discovered in the cell of a senior cartel member who is serving life for murder.
This inmate cannot be named as he currently before the courts charged with threatening to kill a prison officer based in Portlaoise.
Following the search, the cartel criminal was removed from the Midlands and transferred back to maximum security Portlaoise.
“We’ve seen before the level of damage gangland criminals can do from a prison if they have access to a phone,” our source said.
For some of the most serious criminals in the system to have had their pick of devices and the ability to alternate sim cards is worrying.
The source said: “Gangland prisoners cannot be given the same freedom in a prison as other inmates without running the risk they will take over.
“When these lads have more time to mingle and plot, stuff like this is the consequence.”
A spokesperson told the Sunday World earlier this week: “The Irish Prison Service can confirm that a substantial seizure of contraband has been seized in Midlands Prison on January 25, 2023.
“The contraband was seized following an intelligence led security operation by Midlands Prison staff supported by the Operational Support Group.
“The Irish Prison Service has commenced an investigation into the seizure.”