First prisoner bailed in wake of suspended sentencing ruling
Published 11/05/2016 | 02:30
A prisoner challenging the lawfulness of his detention under suspended sentencing laws has been granted bail pending the outcome of judicial review proceedings.
Paul Kidd, who was convicted of selling drugs to an undercover garda, is the first criminal to be allowed out of jail since a High Court decision last month struck down laws governing the activation of suspended sentences.
He is one of at least nine prisoners who have mounted challenges to their incarceration following Mr Justice Michael Moriarty's ruling that laws governing the activation of suspended sentences were unconstitutional. Bail was granted by the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, following a hearing at Cloverhill Courthouse.
The nine challenges have been repeatedly adjourned due to the fact Mr Justice Moriarty has yet to issue the final wording of his judgment or his final orders. The challenges have taken the form of requests for judicial reviews or requests for inquiries under Article 40 of the Constitution.
Kidd was the third convicted criminal to apply for bail based on the Moriarty ruling.
Two others were rejected, but there are indications that several more prisoners may now also seek to be released.
The court heard Kidd received a suspended 11-month sentence in November 2014 after being convicted of selling €20 worth of heroin to an undercover garda.
He was later convicted of two counts of theft, offences which triggered the activation of the suspended sentence.
Kidd lodged an appeal against this conviction, but not before his suspended sentence was activated. He was also granted bail by the District Court while appealing the theft convictions but did not take it up. Mr Justice Kelly agreed to grant bail on the same terms as the District Court, with Kidd required to provide a bond of €300. He must live at an address at Abbotstown Road in Finglas and observe a curfew.
The bail application had been strenuously opposed by counsel for the State, Grainne O'Neill. She argued that the constitutionality issue would not crystallise until Mr Justice Moriarty makes his final orders.
Ms O'Neill said only a non-approved ruling had been issued but gave rise to some confusion. She said Mr Justice Moriarty wanted to clarify certain points and approve his orders.
The barrister said that once this was done, she expected the High Court to deal with the challenges in a speedy fashion.
Earlier, Mr Justice Kelly rejected a bail application from convicted burglar Andrew Larkin, who is also challenging his detention.
Larkin (32), with an address at Coultry Road, Ballymun, received a six-year sentence, with the final three years suspended, in April 2014 for burglary, robbery and attempted robbery.
He was released from prison the following December, but just a month later he was charged with theft, criminal damage and public order offences, to which he pleaded guilty. This triggered the activation of his suspended sentence.
Garda Ciaran Callaghy told the court Larkin had 70 previous convictions and 37 bench warrants issued for his arrest for failing to appear in court.
Mr Justice Kelly said there was no presumption of innocence in this case as Larkin had pleaded guilty to the triggering offence. "In my view this is not a case to exercise discretion to grant bail," he said.
The court heard that a third prisoner, Paul Clarke, had applied for bail last week, but this was rejected by Mr Justice Paul McDermott.