Solitary confinement of prisoner was 'unlawful'
A High Court judge ruled yesterday that a man has been held in unlawful solitary confinement at Castlerea Prison for more than five months.
Mr Justice John Hedigan directed that 24-year-old Leroy Dumbrell, the younger brother of Warren and Jeffrey Dumbrell who last month were granted a re-hearing of their murder trial, be detained in future in accordance with prison rules.
He told senior counsel Iseult O'Malley, who appeared with John Berry for Dumbrell, that he would not make an order releasing him. But he said that if Dumbrell's detention regime did not change, an application for his release could be made.
The judge said it was not acceptable that Dumbrell should have been or should be kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours of every day with only an hour's exercise break from his cell.
The court heard that Dumbrell, who is serving an eight-year jail term for assault, faced the possibility of solitary confinement for the rest of his sentence, which ends in 2012.
He had been transferred in February to Castlerea Prison from Mountjoy Prison in Dublin, where it was alleged he had been involved in prison riots and had been held in solitary confinement since.
The judge said the State had come into court and put its hands up in admitting that Dumbrell had not been granted the privileges afforded under prison rules and the Constitution to every prisoner.
He had been detained by Prison Governor Martin Reilly "for the good order" and proper governance of the prison.
The court criticised Mr Reilly for having failed to reply to letters and phone calls made to him by Dumbrell's solicitors about their client's detention before his legal team had been forced to take court action. Dumbrell, who was awarded costs against the State, was jailed for assaulting Nigel Reid, who was out walking his dog when attacked. Mr Reid lost the sight in his left eye.
Two weeks ago, Warren (32) and Jeffrey (26) Dumbrell succeeded in their appeal against their convictions for the murder of father-of-six Christopher Cawley by stabbing him to death.
The Court of Criminal Appeal held that a speech made by the trial judge, Mr Justice Paul Carney, during the trial could have been prejudicial to a fair trial and could have had an influence on the jury.
Mr Justice Carney had made reference to fatal stabbings and said that manslaughter verdicts did not result in justice for the victims or their families.