Dundalk man wins High Court bid to serve licence period across the border

January 30, 2017

Lawyers for a Dundalk man convicted of explosives offences have won a legal battle to allow him to complete his licence period across the border.  22 year old Keith McConnan, succeeded in his High Court bid along with Gerard McManus, a former Irish Army reservist convicted of gun offences linked to a foiled attack on a trainee policeman’s home.

McConnan, was imprisoned over the discovery of a timer unit at his rented home on the Tievecrom Road in Forkhill in December 2013. In June last year he was sentenced to five years, with half to be spent on licence.

Due to time already served on remand he was released from prison but denied permission to finish his licence period across the border, living with his parents near Dundalk.

Presenting their challenge against the decision of the Probation Board and the Department, McConnan’s legal team claimed it was contrary to any intention to rehabilitate offenders.

They argued that their client – who they said was regarded as a model prisoner while in jail –  was more likely to resettle safely in the community while staying with his parents, than living in a hostel or other temporary accommodation in the North.

Insisting that the relevant rules do not specifically require a prisoner to reside at an address within the UK, the legal team for both men contended that prisoners released in England and Wales under similar legislation are permitted to live outside the jurisdiction.

Barry MacDonald QC argued that although the legislative framework is the same in Northern Ireland as in England and Wales, the interpretation is completely different.

Ruling on the case on Thursday last, Mr Justice Colton held that the respondents had misdirected themselves in law and declared the policy refusing to allow prisoners to serve their period on licence outside the UK as unlawful.