herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Double murderer Mark Nash hospitalised after going on hunger strike

Mark Nash
Mark Nash
Mark Nash

Convicted double murderer Mark Nash has stopped eating food and has been hospitalised due to concerns about his health, a court heard.

President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was told Friday a decision is currently under consideration by the authorities about Nash's application to be transferred from the Midlands Prison back to Arbour Hill prison.

He wants to go back to Arbour Hill because he has already served 15 years there of a life sentence for the murder in 1997 of two people in Ballintober, Co Roscommon.

The judge was told Nash, in a letter to the prison authorities, has said he has hidden the fact he has not taken any food since June 9 last. The court was also told a psychiatric report said Nash is suicidal. Nash is currently in hospital.

Last April, Nash (42) was given another life sentence after he was found guilty of the separate murders of Sylvia Sheils (59) and Mary Callanan (61) at their sheltered housing in Grangegorman in Dublin, also in 1997. That sentence is to run from the date of his sentencing.

He was taken to Mountjoy Prison. However Nash sought to be returned to Arbour Hill, claiming he was under 23-hour lock-up at Mountjoy and his life was under threat from other prisoners.

After the application for transfer back to Arbour Hill was refused, Nash brought High Court proceedings. Since the action was launched in May, he has been moved to the Midlands Prison.

Mr Justice Kearns was told by Robert Barron SC, for the Minister for Justice, there had been "a major development" in the case.

This was that Nash, in a letter, had admitted he concealed the fact he has not been taking food since June 9.

This was despite the fact he has been placed in an special observation cell in Mid July to make sure that he was eating, counsel said.

As a result of this, and a psychiatric report, the authorities are reconsidering Nash's application for a transfer.

Counsel said among the matters to be considered are "countervailing circumstances" about Nash returning to Arbour Hill.

Hugh Hartnett SC, for Nash, who expressed concerns about the "perilous situation" his client is in, asked if a decision could be made earlier rather than later.

Nash has lost 3-4 stone in weight due to his decision to forego food. The case, if it proceeds, could take some days, counsel said.

Mr Justice Kearns after considering submissions from counsel, adjourned the matter to Tuesday.

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