herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Killer in fresh challenge over solitary jail cell

A PRISON Governor is to appeal a High Court decision that keeping a convicted murderer in solitary confinement for almost a year breaches his rights.

Last week, Mr Justice Brian Cregan found the regime Daniel McDonnell has been subject to in Wheatfield Prison, Dublin, for the last 11 months amounted to a breach of his constitutional right to bodily and psychological integrity.

The governor said McDonnell, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of teenager Melanie McCarthy McNamara in a February 2012 drive-by shooting in Tallaght, Dublin, has been kept apart from the rest of the prison population for his own safety.

His lawyers argued the 23-hour lock up regime was disproportionate and violated his rights.

The matter returned before the court Friday when Mr Justice Cregan made a formal order quashing the regulation currently keeping McDonnell in solitary confinement.

Seamus Woulfe SC for the governor, said his side intended to appeal and sought a stay on the judgment. He said the governor was trying to manage McDonnell's situation in the prison on a day-to-day basis.

A plan had been drawn up for him, which includes the provision of more structured activities and work duties within the prison.

Bernard Condon SC, for McDonnell, said he was "troubled" as little had changed since the court had delivered its judgment. While his client was now being brought to the gym three times a week, he remained effectively in solitary confinement.

Mr Condon asked the court for permission to bring new proceedings, including seeking an inquiry under the Constitution into the legality of his McDonnell's detention.

The judge granted permission to bring the fresh proceedings, and adjourned them for a week. He also placed a stay on his orders till Tuesday of next week.

hnews@herald.ie

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