Garlic fraudster's first week in jail in 'Joy training unit
Fruit and vegetable importer Paul Begley is today completing the first week of his six-year prison sentence for bringing garlic into the country labelled as apples.
Businessman Begley, whose inmate number is 77329, has not yet lodged an appeal against the sentence which has been widely criticised as severe.
In the days since Begley was sentenced, a woman received a similar jail term after crushing a man against a wall with her car and killing him, and a man also received six years for the rape of his daughter.
Begley is currently being held in the training unit of Mountjoy prison in the capital, which is seen as having a less severe regime than the main prison.
He has 21 days from the date of his sentence to lodge and appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal, but had not yet proceeded down that line at the time of going to print.
Prison insiders say the training unit in Mountjoy would be more suitable for an inmate like Begley who has never been in prison before and who is not a physical threat to society.
"He would be like a babe in the woods in the main prison, the two are chalk and cheese," said the prison source.
"The training unit is usually used towards the end of a person's sentence where there are work courses, training opportunities and less cell time."
"Lock down in the main prison is at 7.40pm, but in the training unit it is around 10pm at night, and in the training unit the inmates would not be locked up during the day but can avail of more communal facilities," said the source.
The Herald also understands that there are regular drug tests in the training unit, and that it is more drug-free as a result.
Another prison source said most prisoners would do almost anything to serve their sentence in the training unit. It is unclear if Begley will spend all his sentence in the training unit or be transferred elsewhere in the prison at a later stage.
"There are a lot of variables, but if he was put in the main prison now when he is not used to the system or the more recidivist type of inmate he would need constant watching, so it is better for everyone that he is somewhere like the training unit," said the prison source.
The pressure of overcrowding is also not as bad in the training unit as in the main prison, the source said.
Begley (46) from Redgap in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, was handed the six-year sentence at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for evading tax on Chinese garlic by failing to pay €1.6m duty on more than 1,000 tonnes of the product