Northern Ireland

Coroner told Stephen Nolan jailhouse interview will ‘feature heavily’ in reaching determination around former prisoner’s death

Father-of-one Kieran McGrandles passed away days after prion release

Kieran McGrandles was interviewed by Stephen Nolan inside Maghaberry Prison
Kieran McGrandles was interviewed by Stephen Nolan inside Maghaberry Prison

A coroner has heard that a jailhouse interview given to broadcaster Stephen Nolan by a man who died days after being released from prison will “feature heavily in reaching a determination” around the circumstances of his death.

The interview, which was broadcast as part of a BBC documentary series, was raised during a preliminary hearing into the death of father-of-one Kieran McGrandles.

He and another man died at a property in the Elgin Street area of south Belfast, off the Ormeau Road, on Friday May 5 last year.

It is believed the 30-year-old died of a suspected overdose.

Kieran McGrandles died from a suspected drugs overdose
Kieran McGrandles

It later emerged he had been interviewed while behind bars by presenter Stephen Nolan.

The interview was included in a six-part series made by Mr Nolan’s production company, Third Street Studios, and was fronted by the broadcaster.

During the interview Mr McGrandles revealed he had been sexually abused as a boy.

He also told how he had taken medication not prescribed to him on the morning of the interview.

“I took medication this morning, it’s not prescribed to me,” he said.

“I went and bought it.”

He also said during the interview “I am mentally ill”.

While being interviewed Mr McGrandles appeared agitated and threatened to shoot a police officer, doctor and suspected sex offender dead.

His family later asked the BBC to remove the interview from its iPlayer service.

During yesterday’s hearing, which was attended by Mr McGrandles’ parents Geraldine and Kieran, solicitor Paul Pierce, of KRW Law, raised the documentary with coroner Louisa Fee.

“Unfortunately, the profile of Kieran’s death was highlighted as a result of the interview that he gave during the BBC documentary and that has raised, obviously, some concerns,” he said.

“There’s been representations made to the BBC about that and we are considering now at the moment various other representations, or complaints possibly.

“I just raise it at this stage because… I would imagine that will feature heavily in reaching a determination regarding the circumstances surrounding Kieran’s death, albeit, it was broadcast after his death.”

Ms Fee said she had yet to address the issue of the inquest’s scope.

“We can deal with that in due course when we collate all of the relevant information,” she said.

“I am not sure whether or not the next of kin wish for that particular documentary to form part of disclosure, I’ll leave that with you at this stage Mr Pierce.

“You can liaise with my office accordingly and we can make attempts to secure copies of the programme if you feel that’s necessary.”

The coroner added that the issue of scope can be considered at a later stage.

The Irish News previously revealed that a Consultant in Addictions at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust wrote in a letter to Mr McGrandles’ parents after his death that concerns would have been raised with the BBC if medical experts in Maghaberry Prison had been aware of the interview contents.

Mr Pierce raised the correspondence during the hearing.

“This was a letter expressing a large degree of sympathy with the family of Kieran for their loss,” he said.

“They have indicated that having met Kieran they describe him…. not as he would have appeared during his interview.

“It’s just something I thought was relevant to flag up at this stage because it certainly does portray him in a much more positive light and these comments were of some great comfort to the family on the sad loss of Kieran.”

Ms Fee suggested it would be “helpful” if the correspondence was shared with her because it is likely to be “potentially relevant information to the inquest proceedings”.

The Prisoner Ombudsman confirmed last year she is investigating the death of Mr McGrandles.

During Friday’s hearing Ms Fee said she was not sure the inquest “should wait on the outcome of that report because we could be talking a delay that would incur years as opposed to months”.