Monday 20 November 2017

'Black widow' Nevin given array of course choices behind bars

Catherine Nevin on temporary release from Mountjoy Prison to attend a course in Maynooth
Photo: Courtesy of the Sunday World
Catherine Nevin on temporary release from Mountjoy Prison to attend a course in Maynooth Photo: Courtesy of the Sunday World
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

'Black Widow' Catherine Nevin and wife killer Joe O'Reilly can now choose from a list of over 150 different courses - ranging from ceramics to cooking - as part of their rehabilitation behind bars.

It comes as speculation mounts that Nevin - who is being given regular periods of temporary release from prison to attend an educational course - could soon be set free from jail.

The 64-year-old's husband, Tom, was shot dead in his pub, Jack White's Inn, near Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow, in 1996.

In 2000, she was convicted on three charges of soliciting others to murder Tom, following one of the most high-profile trials in the history of the State.

Now, new documents obtained by the Sunday Independent under a Freedom of Information request, reveal that the full range of education- related activities currently on offer is the most comprehensive on record.

Among the more unusual offerings are courses on crime awareness; goal setting; quantitative problem solving; container gardening; intercultural awareness and kettle-bell instruction.

Yoga classes; basic cookery skills; the study of creative writing, and music appreciation are also available to inmates.

Tuition in leather craft, pottery, theatre performance - as well as instruction in addiction studies and anger awareness - are among the accredited courses on offer.

A number of classes are specifically geared towards helping inmates cope with psychological and other problems they may encounter when released from prison.

Prison authorities often grant periods of temporary release as part of the 'resocialisation' process of an inmate ahead of their final release.

They can take part in a general pre-release programme, as well as tuition on study skills, career preparation and a start-your-own-business programme. There is also a non-accredited course titled 'Steps to excellence and personal success'.

Meanwhile, latest documents show the range of culinary options now available to prisoners.

The current dinner menu operates on a '28-day cycle', so as to offer as many dietary options as possible.

Dishes of the day include grilled steak; chicken curry and rice; fillet of fish with mashed potatoes and peas; and pasta bolognese.

The traditional Dublin offering of coddle is also available.

Dessert choices includes fresh fruit; ice cream; trifle; rice pudding, and stewed apple with custard, depending on the menu mix on offer.

When it is time for 'tea', the menu cycle contains offerings such as a bun burger and coleslaw; ham salad; sausages and roll; gammon steak with grilled tomatoes; meatballs and pasta sauce; and tuna salad.

Currently, the cost of recreational facilities, such as cable television and related expenses, now stands at over €85,800.

TVs were first introduced into prison cells in 2002.

It is understood no decision has been made regarding a possible final release for Nevin, nor is a provisional date currently being considered.

A life-sentenced prisoner is eligible for review by the Parole Board after serving seven years in custody.

Nevin is currently in the 16th year of a life sentence. The former teacher - long dubbed the 'Black Widow' - maintains she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

She has lodged a case against the Irish State with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

In a statement, the ECHR confirmed to the Sunday Independent that Nevin lodged an application before the Court in December 2015. However, this application was declared inadmissible in February.

"There is no application lodged by Catherine Nevin currently pending before the Court," said the ECHR.

Sunday Independent

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