Sunday 21 December 2014

Jailed tycoon Sean Quinn Snr gets out in time for Christmas

Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Editor

Published 20/12/2012 | 17:35

Sean Quinn rally...Sean Quinn addresses thousands of people who attended a rally in support of his family in Ballyconnell in Co Cavan tonight. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 29, 2012. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire...A

JAILED businessman Sean Quinn is getting out for Christmas – but will miss his granddaughter’s christening on Saturday.

Mr Quinn will spend three days and nights with his family over Christmas following a complex legal wrangle involving the Attorney General, the Justice Minister, the Irish Prison Service and the Governor of Mountjoy Prison.

An emergency application in the courts was due to take place tomorrow morning, but the action has been averted after the Chief State Solicitor said she had no objections to the brief compassionate temporary release (CTR).

Mr Quinn, who is serving a nine-week sentence for contempt, wanted CTR to attend his granddaughter's christening on Saturday and to spend Christmas with his family.

He will not be released for the christening on Saturday, but will have three days and three nights at home in Ballyconnell.

This evening Kevin Winters, the Belfast-based human rights solicitor who represented the 66-year-old bankrupt at his sentence hearing, said that the application for compassionate temporary release had been successful.

“Mr Quinn will be able to spend Christmas with his family,” said Mr Winters.

“In our view, it is right and fitting that he be granted that facility because it is no more or less than that enjoyed by many other prisoners at this time”.

In recent days, requests from Quinn and his family were referred to Attorney General Maire Whelan because anyone convicted of contempt of court, unlike other criminal offences including murder and rape, isn't entitled to remission and can only be released by the courts.

Ireland has no formal law on contempt of court despite repeated calls for contempt to be placed on a statutory footing, raising novel legal questions about whether people such as Quinn can be released early on compassionate grounds.

When he was sentenced last month, Quinn's legal team applied to the High Court for CTR.

But Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said that any application for compassionate release would have to be made to the prison authorities.

Quinn's lawyers made three separate representations, seeking CTR, to the governor of Mountjoy Prison – where Quinn is serving his sentence at the jail's training unit.

The Irish Prison Service, the Department of Justice and Office of the Attorney General have also received legal submissions on the matter.

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