The inquest into the death of Strabane republican John Brady, which began this week, has heard evidence from family and friends that he was in “good form” and showed no signs of being unhappy or anxious prior to his arrest and subsequent death in Strand Road PSNI in Derry.
Mr Brady, who was 40, was on weekend leave from prison when he was arrested and was found hanging from his laces in a police cell on October 3, 2009.
The Coroners Court in Omagh was told that he had spent almost half his life in jail and was released as part of the Good Friday Agreement.
However he was recalled by the authorities while on licence from jail.
Prior to his death, the court was told, he had been receiving weekends on release and stayed with his mother in Strabane and had hopes of permanent release in the near future.
On Friday, October 2, 2009 he was involved in what was described by his sister and other witnesses as a “scuffle” with his brother-in-law John Kennedy and was arrested that evening.
Witnesses told the hearing that Mr Kennedy was the aggressor while Mr Kennedy claimed in a statement shortly after the incident that he was attacked by Mr Brady.
The court was told that Mr Kennedy, who was married to the deceased’s, sister left Strabane shortly after Mr Brady’s death and has not be located since, despite the efforts of police, Security Services (MI5) and social security and other agencies.
Lorna Brady, sister of John Brady, described her brother as “always very upbeat” and said he had been making plans to buy car and move to Ballybofey.
She said, “He had stuck strictly to bail conditions including not drinking and never showed any signs of depression”.
Regarding his death, she added, “The time I was told John has hung himself I was totally shocked. He was the last person would take his own life”.
She also stated that her brother contacted the prison after the incident with Mr Kennedy as he was anxious about the terms of his weekend release.
She said the prison authorities advised him to report the incident to the police, which she said he then did.
She said three landrovers arrived at her mother’s home to arrest her brother while a police helicopter was overhead.
Ms Brady said she spoke to John Brady while he was in custody and he indicated that he would rather be returned to prison than spend the weekend in the PSNI station.
The inquest is expected to run into next week.
Coroner Joe McCrisken told the packed court that the purpose of an inquest was to ascertain the identity of the deceased and when and where he died and how death occurred.
He emphasised that it was not a trial and “there was no question of attributing blame to anyone”.