WIFE-killer Dermot McArdle's hopes of an early release have been dealt a blow after court officials described his compensation payments to her family as "derisory".
The Dundalk man was criticised over the paltry payments to his late wife's parents and children in a report submitted to prison chiefs by the Spanish court that jailed him.
He is currently 16 months into his two-year sentence for the manslaughter of Kellyann Corcoran in February 2000.
Father-of-three McArdle is paying just €50 a month despite being ordered to pay €220,000 compensation and thousands more in court costs when he was convicted of manslaughter more than four years ago.
Court officials in Malaga blasted the payments as "derisory" and "insufficient" and insisted they have never sanctioned the amounts in their report to Spain's Prison Service. The rap over the knuckles is expected to harm McArdle's chances of regaining his freedom early.
A source close to the case said: "Jail benefits including early releases are linked to things like prisoner repayments of compensation to their victims.
"Tactics used by prisoners include fractioned payments to try to convince jail chiefs they are making an effort to honour the court order. But the report on McArdle is so negative it may convince prison authorities he is just trying to pull the wool over their eyes.
"It certainly won't do his hopes of an early release on licence any good."
Ms Corcoran (28) plunged to her death following a struggle at the couple's fourth-floor hotel room in Marbella.
McArdle, from Heynestown, Dundalk, Co Louth, was convicted of her manslaughter in October 2008 – and started his two-year jail sentence in August 2011 after losing a string of appeals.
He was ordered to pay €60,000 each to his two sons by Kellyann, Mark and Paul, for the loss of their mother – and her grieving parents Ted and Bridie €100,000.
A Spanish lawyer said in court at McArdle's trial that he had received nearly half a million euro in life insurance payouts following his wife's death.
At his current rate of payment he would take 366 years just to compensate fully his sons and former in-laws.
Court officials have said they will wait until McArdle has made several of his €50 payments before transferring the first lump sum to his victim's relatives.
In Spain prisoners normally have to serve three-quarters of their sentence before they can qualify for early release, although in some cases it is two-thirds.
A spokesman for Spain's Prison Service declined to comment.