herald

Saturday 20 December 2014

Quinn to be let out of jail for Christmas

JAILED tycoon Sean Quinn is to be freed from prison for three days over Christmas

The 66-year-old is being granted temporary release from his nine-week sentence for contempt of court, but will miss his granddaughter's Christening tomorrow in Co Cavan.

Quinn is due to be released for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephen's Day.



Separated

He will spend the three days and nights with his family in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, following a complex legal wrangle involving the Attorney General, the Justice Minister, the Irish Prison Service and the Governor of Mountjoy prison.

An emergency application was due to take place in the High Court today, but the action was averted after the Chief State Solicitor said she had no objections to the brief compassionate temporary relief.

His temporary release follows an impassioned plea on behalf of his wife Patricia, who could not bear to be separated from her husband at Christmas.

In letters to prison authorities and the State, Quinn's family said that in almost 40 years, Sean and Patricia Quinn had never spent a Christmas apart.

Sean Quinn Jnr said his family were delighted that his father would be home for Christmas.

"We were waiting all day and we didn't know which way it would go," he said.

"As a family, like any other family, we are looking forward to spending Christmas together. We are delighted."

The decision to release Quinn temporarily was made following discussions between the Attorney General, Maire Whelan, Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, the Government of Mountjoy Prison, Ned Whelan as well as the Irish Prison Service.

Kevin Winter, the Belfast based human rights lawyer who represented Quinn at his sentence hearing, said that the application for CTR had "at times" been protracted.

"In our view, it is right and fitting that he be granted that facility because it is no more or less than that enjoyed by many other prisoners at this time," Mr Winters said.

The Quinn family provided a series of letters outlining the impact on Quinn Snr if he missed his granddaughter's christening and Christmas.

In a letter to Mountjoy Governor, Ned Whelan, Ciara Quinn described the birth of her daughter as "the only good in my life over the past 19 months."

Not having her father at the Christening "will leave a large void in the ceremony and a dark cloud over the entire day," she said. "My father is a devoted family man and to miss his granddaughter's Christening would negatively affect him."

Quinn's son, Sean Quinn Jnr, who has already served three months in jail, admitted he fears he may be sent back to prison in the New Year.

"I've accepted that may happen," he said. "It will be a matter for the courts and I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."

mlavery@herald.ie

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