Sunday 21 April 2019

High Court says detention conditions of convicted murderer Warren Dumbrell have been 'breached'

Warren Dumbrell. Photo: Collins
Warren Dumbrell. Photo: Collins

Ray Managh

Convicted murderer Warren Dumbrell, who with his brother Jeffrey is serving a life sentence for the brutal fatal stabbing of a father of six, has been granted a High Court declaration that his detention conditions have on occasion been breached.

Dumbrell (44) who was described in a High Court hearing as a violent and particularly challenging prisoner with a poor disciplinary record, has for a number of years been detained away from the mainstream prison population.

Prisoner Warren Dumbrell (Collins Dublin)
Prisoner Warren Dumbrell (Collins Dublin)

For Dumbrell, formerly of Emmet Place, Incihcore, Dublin, the declaration by Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan will have little effect on his detention regime apart from being kept informed more often and in more detail as to the reasons behind his continued segregation.

The Dumbrells were found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court of the murder of 33-year-old Christopher Cawley who they chased in October 2006, trapped in a stairwell at Tyrone Place Flats, Inchicore, where their victim lived, and repeatedly stabbed him, leaving him to bleed to death in front of his wife and two of his children.

During Warren Dumbrell’s High Court challenge against his detention conditions it was revealed that he had been considered to be a most volatile and dangerous prisoner and had accumulated 51 discipline charges.

Judge O’Regan noted in a reserved judgment said that although there was considerable controversy between the parties as to the circumstances of Dumbrell’s incarceration, it did appear that for a long number of years he had been detained away from the mainstream prison population.

The prison authorities had argued that this had arisen because of his behaviour which, since 2015, had deteriorated and his personality had changed in such a manner as to his becoming more intimidating. Moving him to the mainstream prison population would negatively impact on his behaviour and access to contraband and potential altercations with prisoners and staff.

Michael Lynn SC had told the court that reports showed he had made positive changes by a reduction in violence and other previously challenging behaviour and had made great strides to improving his relations with those he was in contact with.

Jailed: Warren Dumbrell
Jailed: Warren Dumbrell

In the initial application for leave for judicial review of Dumbrell’s detention conditions, Micheal P O’Higgins SC said his client believed his conditions related to an incident in 1997 when he was one of several inmates involved in a siege at Mountjoy Prison when prison officers were taken hostage and threatened. Dumbrell received a 10-year prison sentence for his role in that incident.

Conor Devally SC, for the prison authorities, had told the court that while the applicant had been incarcerated in The Midlands Prison prior to his application he had since been moved to Portlaoise Prison.

Mr Devally had argued that insofar as the applicant complained of unnatural confinement over an 11-year period this stemmed from the complexity of the challenges posed by him and the threats he had made.

Judge O’Regan stated that the applicant’s claim for relief should not be denied to him merely because of his behaviour which ultimately created the need for The Midlands Prison to implement a tighter regime in managing him.

She granted Dumbrell a declaration that the prison had on occasion breached Rule 62 of the Prison Rules which, among other things, directed that a prison governor shall conduct a review not less than once in seven days to determine whether a direction limiting a prisoner’s activities might be revoked and inform the prisoner of the outcome of such reviews.

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