Minister asked prison boss to improve murderer's life in jail
Published 29/11/2010 | 05:00
A MINISTER asked prison authorities to consider special treatment for a contract killer who shot a man dead for a fee of €12,000, an Irish Independent investigation reveals.
Mental Health Minister John Moloney wrote to the Irish Prison Service on behalf of hitman Raymond Ryan, who is serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of an English businessman.
Letters obtained by the Irish Independent reveal Mr Moloney unsuccessfully facilitated a request by Ryan for a transfer to another prison so he could avail of better training facilities.
Further documents also show how other government TDs helped relatives seek special treatment for drug dealers, while one politician helped seek the temporary release of a man who had sexually abused his own niece.
The revelations have deeply angered victim support advocates, who are calling for a ban on politicians lobbying for concessions for criminals.
Hitman Ryan (44), from Portlaoise, Co Laois, shot bakery owner Mario Commatteo in the head at his home near London 10 years ago.
He was hired by the victim's common-law wife, Angela Bristow, who hoped to get a €120,000 insurance payout as a result of her partner's death.
However, British police unravelled the plot and both were jailed for life, along with another accomplice.
Ryan was subsequently repatriated to Ireland to serve out his sentence at Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon.
Mr Moloney admitted last night he was "fully aware" of the details of the case when he wrote to the head of the Irish Prison Service, Brian Purcell, enclosing Ryan's request for a transfer to the training unit in Mountjoy.
"I have to put my hands up. I can't say for a minute that I wasn't aware of the circumstances," he said.
"I was aware of what the court case was about and that he was proven in court to be a hitman in a murder hit."
The minister said he wrote after being approached by Ryan's father, who was "upset" that his son did not have access to certain training opportunities in prison, having previously completed barbering and computer courses in a British prison.
"I did not do it lightly. It was not a case of chasing a vote by agreeing to write a letter for someone," said Mr Moloney.
"I sought a letter from his son confirming that he wanted to do further training before getting in contact with the prison service.
"All that was requested was a transfer to the training unit. It was not a case of trying to interfere with the sentence in any way or looking for a cosy life for him. I was just trying to help the prisoner."
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern subsequently wrote to Mr Moloney to advise him that the request had been refused.
Joan Deane, the co-founder of AdVIC (Advocates for Victims of Homicide), said Mr Moloney's actions were "an absolute outrage" and reiterated a call for a total ban on prisoner representations by politicians.
"As we see it, this is interference with due process. Politicians should not be involving themselves in matters which are the jurisdiction of the prison and probation services," she said.