Saturday 23 February 2019

Prisoner challenges detention in an 'alien' county full of GAA fans

Frank Ward
Frank Ward

A man serving a 20-year sentence arising from the shooting of publican Charlie Chawke has claimed he is illegally detained in an "alien" county where the people are "GAA supporters to a child".

Frank Ward has been detained since 2010 in the Midlands Prison, Portlaoise, Co Laois.

He failed in a High Court challenge claiming his rights were breached due to being detained in "internal exile" in a county "culturally foreign and alien" outside the geographical jurisdiction of the original sentencing court in Dublin.

In refusing an inquiry into the legality of his detention under Article 40 of the Constitution, Mr Justice David Barniville said the grounds advanced were "spurious" and "unmeritorious".

There was "nothing unfair" or contrary to Ward's fundamental rights in an order transferring him from Mountjoy Prison to the Midlands Prison, notwithstanding the people of Co Laois may be "GAA supporters", the judge said.

Nor was there any basis for complaints of unfair geographical distance from the applicant's family as there were "excellent road and rail links from Portlaoise".

The claim Ward was internally exiled outside the geographical jurisdiction of the court that sentenced him has no merit, he ruled.

There was also "no basis whatsoever" for claims the detention in the Midlands Prison breached the applicant's rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, including to liberty and security.

Ward, aged in his 60s, of Knockmore Avenue, Tallaght, was sentenced in October 2007 for his role in an incident outside Mr Chawke's restaurant and bar, The Goat Grill, Goatstown, Dublin, on October 6, 2003.

Mr Chawke was injured in the shooting and his right leg had to be amputated five days later.


Ward was given two life sentences on charges of intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Chawke and robbery of €48,652 in cash and cheques.

The Court of Criminal Appeal in January 2012 quashed the life sentences and replaced them with sentences of 20 years on each count, to run concurrently from October 2003.

During his detention, Ward has made several applications seeking his release.

In the latest he applied for an inquiry, under Article 40, on grounds the circumstances of his detention in the Portlaoise prison amounted to unlawful detention.

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