Northern Ireland

Stephen Nolan programme: Interview concerns would have been raised by medical experts

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

An addictions consultant would have raised concerns with the BBC if medical experts in Maghaberry Prison had been aware of an interview during which a prisoner admitted taking unprescribed medication and being "mentally ill".

The jailhouse interview with former inmate Kieran McGrandles (30), which was carried out by presenter Stephen Nolan, was broadcast last month.

The interview was carried out as part of the ‘Jailed: Inside Maghaberry Prison’ BBC series, which was made by Mr Nolan's production company, Third Street Studios.

During the interview Mr McGrandles made several serious admissions and issued violent threats.

Earlier this year the father-of-one was jailed for five months after assaulting a nurse who was treating him.

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He died from a suspected overdose at a property in south Belfast in May.

Kieran McGradles died from a suspected drugs overdose
Kieran McGradles died from a suspected drugs overdose

It has now emerged that a senior health official wrote to his parents Geraldine and Kieran, in the days after the interview was broadcast.

In the letter, which has been seen by the Irish News, a Consultant in Addictions at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said medical officials were not aware of the contents of the interview.

“Healthcare in Prison had no part in this documentary and we were not given the opportunity to see the programme in a timely fashion before it went out,” the consultant wrote.

“Had we been aware of the contents we would certainly have raised our concerns to the BBC prior to it being aired.

“This film does not portray Kieran as he truly was.”

The medical expert said they worked with Mr McGrandles while he was in Maghaberry Prison.

“I met him on four occasions and never forgot him,” the consultant wrote.

“He made an impression on me and I remember him as a gentle soul.

“He was always polite, respectful and quiet in nature.

“This is also how he is remembered by the nursing staff within the Healthcare in prison team.”

The consultant confirmed they never felt uneasy around Mr McGrandles.

“He certainly never threatened me and I was never afraid to see him,” they said.

“In fact, I looked forward to seeing him.

“I was unaware he had taken part in the current Nolan series on Maghaberry.

“When I watched it on Monday night I could not believe it was Kieran on camera.”

The medical official also offered condolences “on the loss of Kieran, who was a gentle, kind and pleasant young man to work with”.

During the interview Mr McGrandles admitted taking drugs he had bought in the prison.

"I took medication this morning, it's not prescribed to me," he said.

"I went and bought it."

He added during the interview "I am mentally ill".

He also revealed he had been sexually abused as a child.

At times he appeared agitated and threatened to shoot dead a police officer, doctor and sex offender.

The circumstances of his death are currently being investigated by Prisoner Ombudsman, Dr Lesley Carroll.

Mr McGrandles’ mother, accompanied by his uncle Seamus McAloran, met with senior officials from the south eastern trust earlier this week.

“We felt the meeting went really well,” Mr McAloran said.

“We were shown real sympathy and empathy.

“It was an emotional meeting for all those involved.

“Afterwards Geraldine remarked that it was the first time that she felt happiness since this all started.”

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Following discussion with the production company, NI Prison Service gave permission to film in Maghaberry during the summer of 2022.  The focus of the programme was on prisoners and the reasons behind their imprisonment.  While other organisations had the opportunity to take part, any decision to do so was solely a matter for them. Any person taking part in the programme did so voluntarily.”