Northern Ireland news

Alcohol and drugs destroyed promising football career

Sean Lynch pictured as a teenager with his local Tristar football team in Derry
Seamus McKinney

SEAN Lynch was a football-mad child who succumbed to drug and alcohol abuse and had to be restrained by his own family after he became aggressive at home.

The Prisoner Ombudsman's report said he was tranquilized while in custody and seriously assaulted a warder.

A highly talented footballer, Mr Lynch played at under-16 level for Northern Ireland. He also played for Derry City and, on one occasion, was offered a professional contract with Newcastle United but turned the chance down.

His father Damien said at one time a number of English Premiership clubs had shown an interest in his son.

Most of his previous convictions were due to police being called to the family home because relatives feared for their safety.

In November 2013 Mr Lynch, then aged 22, was charged with assault and criminal damage. He was granted bail but breached the conditions.

As a result he was remanded to Maghaberry Prison in April 2014. This was his sixth custodial period since October 2010 - his previous stays ranged from two days to two months.

The report said: "Mr Lynch's family described how his passion for football began to decline when he was a teenager.

"Around the same time he began to get into trouble with the police and his mental health also began to deteriorate: community medical records suggest he was diagnosed with alcohol dependency, obsessive compulsive disorder and suicidal ideation."

Mr Lynch reported having a daily cannabis addiction, having begun drinking when he was 15 and experimented with drugs for a short time, but stopped due to panic attacks.

"However, he resumed regular misuse of drugs at the age of 18, in particular cannabis and mephedrone1."

Various child and family services interventions were provided but Mr Lynch was not ready to accept help.

"The family described how his behaviour had become noticeably more disturbed and bizarre during 2013, to the extent that they had to restrain him for lengthy periods of time when he became aggressive in the home."

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