Friday 24 November 2017

Melanie McCarthy McNamara murderer brings court challenge against 23-hour-a-day lockup

A MAN serving a life sentence for murdering teenager Melanie McCarthy McNamara has brought a High Court challenge against his 23-hour-a-day lock up regime in prison.

Daniel McDonnell (aged 20), the prison authorities claim, is being kept apart from the rest of the prison population for his own safety after he fell out with other inmates.

However McDonnell's lawyers have argued before the court the decision to effectively keep him in his cell at Dublin's Wheatfield Prison, where he has been incarcerated since February 2014, for 23 hours a day is disproportionate.

They claim the regime is a violation of his rights.

In January 2014, McDonnell, from Brookview Lawns, Tallaght, Dublin, was found guilty of murdering Ms McCarthy McNamara (16) by a jury at the Central Criminal Court.

The teenager was gunned down, as she sat in a car with two others, in a drive-by shooting in Tallaght in February 2012.

Following the verdict, Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed the mandatory life sentence on McDonnell, who had denied the charge.

In the High Court proceedings,  Bernard Condon SC, for McDonnell, said his client is only allowed one hour outside his cell to do chores and exercise in the afternoon.

McDonnell asked the prison authorities on several occasions to be allowed mix with other prisoners.

However his requests were  refused. He now spends 23-hours a day in his 12ft by 8ft single cell.

He also claims he has been denied access to structured  activities, such as education and training, within the prison.

McDonnell wishes to participate in such activities.

He has some limited access to education, but only in the form of half hour one to to one sessions with a tutor, counsel said.  As a result it is claimed McDonnell is finding it difficult to cope and his health has suffered.

McDonnell is seeking various orders and declarations including a declaration from the court that his constitutional rights to bodily integrity, and rights under the European Convention of Human Rights have been breached.

Opposing the application  counsel for the Governor of Wheatfield Prison, Seamus Woulfe SC, said McDonnell has fallen out with prisoners he used to associate with.

As a result, he has been kept isolated from the other prisoner due to a significant threat to his safety.

It was proposed to allow McDonnell attend the gym three days a week, counsel said.

Following submissions from both sides, Mr Justice Brian Cregan said he would give his decision next week.

McDonnell was convicted after the jury were shown letters he wrote in prison where he admitted to Ms McCarthy McNamara's killing.

One of the letters, which the accused admitted writing, included the words: “Close-range head shots. That’s what I’m going for… Two in the head. The b***h is dead. Ha ha… Little did he know I had a loaded 12-guage. Left his bitch all over the Sunday World front page.”

Another man Keith Hall, Kilmartin Drive, Tallaght was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to Ms McCarthy McNamara's manslaughter, but not guilty of her murder.

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