Saturday 26 May 2018

Drug dealer challenges long-term detention in Mountjoy isolation unit

AN inmate at Mountjoy Prison has brought a High Court challenge over his continued detention in the jail’s isolation unit.

Christopher Conroy (27), Redmonds Court, Kilbarrack, Dublin, is serving a 10-year sentence for possessing almost €200,000 of heroin and has been held in the unit since late June.

The prison authorities placed him there, where he is confined for 23 hours a day and unable to receive family visits, for his own protection after he was attacked by other prisoners.

In his High Court action, his lawyers say his continued detention in the segregation unit amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment.

He requested a transfer to another prison, which has been approved by the Prison Service. However this transfer has not been carried out by the Prison Governor, who has not given reasons for the decision.

Concern has also been expressed for Conroy’s health as he has lost three stone in weight since being placed in the segregation unit.

In his proceedings against the Governor at Mountjoy, the Irish Prison Service, the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General, Conroy is seeking an order from the court that he be released from the segregation unit, or that he be transferred to another prison.

He is also seeking declarations including that his continued detention in a segregation unit amounts to an additional punishment, and is a breach of his constitutional rights and rights under the European Convention of Human Rights. He is also seeking damages.

Conroy pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at Melrose Park, Kinsealy, on October 21, 2008. In November 2010 he was jailed for 10 years for possessing the drugs. He is due for release in 2018.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte (one-side only) basis, by Mr Justice Michael Peart. The Judge made the matter returnable to a date later this month.

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