Tuesday 22 January 2019

Serial killer Mark Nash claims he was 'locked out' of applying for earlier parole due to delay in charging him

Mark Nash was found guilty of the murders of Sylvia Shiels and Mary Callinan in March 1997
Mark Nash was found guilty of the murders of Sylvia Shiels and Mary Callinan in March 1997

Tim Healy

Serial killer Mark Nash claims the delay in charging him with the murders of two women in Grangegorman had "locked him out" from applying for parole as early as he could have, the Supreme Court heard.

Nash (43) was jailed for life last year for the murders of Mary Callinan (61) and Sylvia Shiels (59) in their home in Grangegorman, Dublin, in March 1997.

He had already been serving a life sentence imposed in 1998 for a separate double murder in Roscommon in August 1997 when Catherine Doyle (28) and her husband Carl (29) were brutally killed at their home in Castlerea.

He was charged in 2009 with the Grangegorman murders and later failed in a High Court attempt to stop the that prosecution claiming that because of the delay in charging him there was a real risk of an unfair trial. 

The Supreme Court upheld that decision.

Following a 48-day trial in the Central Criminal Court he was jailed for life for a second time.

The judge refused to backdate his sentence to reflect the fact that he was already serving life for the first murders.

As a result, he claims, he was "locked out" from applying for parole sooner than he might have under a scheme where even those serving life sentences are entitled to apply for after a certain number of years of having served their sentence.

Even though the Supreme Court dismissed his challenge prohibiting his trial, the issue of his claim for damages and the legal costs had still to be dealt with by the court.

The five-judge court included Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, who died in office last month.

When the case returned before the court today, Chief Justice Susan Denham said Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne had joined the court in Mr Hardiman's place and the case would proceed on that basis.

Hugh Hartnett SC, for Nash, said he was seeking costs and damages because his client had been locked out from applying for parole after seven or eight years because of the delay in charging him.

Had he been tried in 2002, when the authorities were satisfied he could be charged with the Grangegorman murders, and after conviction, he would have been able to apply for parole at this time, counsel said.

The Supreme Court said it would receive written submissions on the matter from both sides and adjourned it for three weeks.

The court also said it would deal on that date with a request from the DPP to delete certain sentences from Mr Justice Hardiman's judgment on the Nash judicial review challenge.

Brendan Grehan SC, for the DPP,  said Mr Justice Hardiman, in one of four separate judgments delivered in January last year by the Supreme Court rejecting the Nash challenge, reference was made to an Assistant Garda Commissioner who had been appointed to investigate the charging of the wrong man with one of the Grangegorman murders.  

Heroin abuser, Dean Lyons, who has since died, was initially charged but following an inquiry, it was found he had nothing to do with the murders even though he had admitted on a number of occasions to having done them

Retired Assistant Commissioner Jim McHugh wrote to the Chief Prosecution Solicitor's office saying he had been confused with another senior garda in the Hardiman decision, Mr Grehan said.

It was accepted Mr McHugh's role in the investigation was totally above reproach but Mr Justice Hardiman seemed to have conflated his role with that of another garda, counsel said.

The best way to deal with the matter would be to simply delete a number of sentences which would not change the judgment, he said.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton said he did not think anyone doubted that Mr McHugh was "one of the finest offices in the Garda Siochana ever".

The Chief Justice said the court would check out the matter and will refer to it when it next sits to deal with this case.

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