Saturday 3 December 2016

Convicted murderer John Dundon launches High Court challenge against screened jail visits

Ray Managh and Aodhan O’Faolain

Published 23/12/2015 | 11:55

John Dundon
John Dundon
Shane Geoghegan

Convicted murderer and Limerick gangster John Dundon has launched a High Court challenge against being allowed screened visits only at Portlaoise Prison.

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He claims the decision permitting screen visits only was imposed by the Prison Governor last April and that the decision is unfair and breaches his rights.

Shane Geoghegan
Shane Geoghegan

Dundon is currently serving a life sentence at the maximum security prison for the murder of 28-year-old Garryowen rugby player Shane Geoghegan in Limerick in 2008.

In what was a case of mistaken identity, Shane died after having been shot five times as he walked to his girlfriend’s house in the early hours of November 9, 2008. 

Two years ago Dundon was convicted of Mr Geoghegan's murder by the non-Jury Special Criminal Court on the basis that the shots had been fired by a gunman acting on Dundon’s behalf.

In his High Court action Dundon (aged 33) seeks an order quashing the Governor's decision that all visits to him must be screened.  He cannot have any open visits which would allow physical contact between him and his visitors. 

Dundon, the High Court heard, is the subject of a restricted prison regime and is housed at a separate facility away from the main prison population.  He claims the sanction is one of indeterminate duration.

He claims the Governor’s decision is subject to a monthly review, a process in which he has attempted to engage, but alleges the review is carried out in a manner that breaches his right to fair procedures because he is never informed when the review is held nor the identity of those conducting the review. 

Dundon claims that no reasons are furnished supporting the Governor’s decision and says the blanket imposition of screened visits, irrespective of who the visitor might be, is a disproportionate interference with his rights.  He says the Governor's decision is unfair and unnecessary. 

Open visits are allowed at the maximum security prison, which he says has rigorous security procedures in place which should address any concerns the prison authorities might have. 

Dundon has received prison sanctions after being held to having breached prison discipline. In two separate incidents, that occurred in April and June, he was found by the prison authorities to be in possession of mobile phones and accessories.

Dundon says he has served the disciplinary sanctions he received in respect of these matters, but remains on screened visits. He does not know for how long this situation will continue in respect of visits.

He wants the decision quashed and, in a judicial review process granted by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys on an ex-parte basis, he also seeks several declarations including that the Governor has acted unreasonably, and unfairly.

 Judge Humphreys made the matter returnable to a date in February.

In 2013 Dundon from Hyde Road in Limerick, was found guilty of Mr Geoghegan's murder following a trial before three judges at the Special Criminal Court. Evidence was given at the trial Dundon had planned to kill a man called John "Pitchfork" McNamara, who lived near Mr Geoghegan.

The court heard John Dundon ordered gunman Barry Doyle to shoot McNamara less than 48 hours before the rugby player was killed. Hours after the shooting, Dundon rang rival criminal Philip Collopy to boast that John McNamara was dead, but had panicked when he learned that the wrong man had been shot.

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