herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Prison pays part of bail to send inmate home

Cloverhill
Cloverhill

A disruptive inmate who got on to the roof of Cloverhill Prison to collect drugs had nearly half of his bail paid by the jail when his grandmother couldn't come up with the full sum.

The incident happened on Tuesday last week after the prisoner crawled through barbed wire to get to drugs that had been thrown up on to the roof of the prison, leading to a two-hour stand-off.

As he collected the drugs and concealed them on his person the prisoner shouted at authorities to find his grandmother so he could be bailed.

He was being held on a criminal damage charge at the remand prison but could not be released until someone signed bail for him.

troublesome

He was watched by prison staff on CCTV as he collected the contraband.

After more than two hours of negotiations with an officer on a hoist, the man's grandmother came to the west Dublin jail.

But it has since emerged that she did not have all the money needed for the €200 bail and the prison authorities dipped into its own kitty so that the troublesome prisoner could be released.

Then the prisoner came down from the roof on the hoist, collected his belongings and was sent on his way with his granny.

The Irish Prison Service would not comment on the incident, however jail sources said almost half the bail for the inmate was paid by the prison authorities.

"The guy's grandmother arrived with €104 and said it was all she had, but Cloverhill couldn't release him until all the money was paid," said the source.

"The total bail was €200 so the authorities used a discretionary fund to make up the €96 difference. It doesn't happen often and it is only used in rare cases of hardship or exceptional circumstances.

"In the interests of getting the prisoner off the roof and restoring peace to the jail a decision was made to use the fund to chip in the rest of the bail," the source said.

Bail is essentially on loan until the inmate appears in court, and then it is paid back to whoever put it up.

In this case Cloverhill would be refunded its money and it would not be at a loss to the State - assuming the inmate appears in court.

But the Prison Officers' Association (POA) reacted with anger when told by the Herald of the payment from jail coffers.

"We are very surprised to learn that State monies were used to fund a bail payment determined by the courts," a POA spokesman said.

irregular

"This would seem to be highly irregular... for the State to fund such a bail payment.

"We expect that Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will be raising questions with the Irish Prison Service on the serious matter which is, to our knowledge, unprecedented," the spokesman added.

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