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Saturday 24 August 2019

Killer claims 'I couldn't reach 4ft shelf in cell'

Jailed killer Gerald Dunne
Jailed killer Gerald Dunne

A murderer found with an improvised knife under his prison cell mattress has failed in a High Court challenge to his jail disciplinary hearing.

Gerald Dunne (43), of Rafter's Avenue, Drimnagh, Dublin, was jailed for murder in 2001 after stabbing a man during a row which began over the use of a public phone box.

He stabbed Liam Thompson (20), of Woodlawn Park Grove, Firhouse, Tallaght, on January 27, 1999, at Dolphin Road, Rialto, Dublin.

In a search of his Wheatfield Prison cell on November 7, 2017, officers found the improvised knife wrapped in tissue paper under his mattress. They also found an almost full bag of razor blades on a shelf in the cell.

Dunne claimed the items had been "planted" as others had access to his open cell while he was doing prison work. He also claimed he did not use the shelf on which the blades were found as he could not reach it. The prison authorities said the only shelf was 4ft high.

A disciplinary process under prison rules took place in which he was found to be responsible for the items. The hearing was adjourned after Dunne asked to be allowed to see CCTV of who had access to his cell.

Through his solicitor, he also wanted gardai to be brought in to investigate and fingerprints of the bag of razors to be taken.

The disciplinary hearing found against him and a sanction was imposed.

Dunne brought an appeal, which was rejected.

He brought a High Court challenge against the governor of Wheatfield and the Justice Minister, claiming fair procedures were breached by a failure to allow him to examine the CCTV footage.

Conflicts

He also claimed his rights as a prisoner were breached by the failure to transmit his appeal to the minister.

Ms Justice Miriam O'Regan said Dunne was correct in indicating there were conflicts in the evidence given by the assistant governor over the CCTV.

She was satisfied, however, that the footage did not in fact form part of the evidence against him and so was not captured by the prison rules legislation or previous case law.

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