Thursday 22 February 2018

Supreme Court orders re-arrest of criminal Eddie Ryan

The Four Courts Dublin.
Pic Steve Humphreys
12th August 2013.
The Four Courts Dublin. Pic Steve Humphreys 12th August 2013.

Ray Managh

The Supreme Court today issued a warrant for the re-arrest of Limerick man Eddie Ryan (Jnr) after finding that his release by the High Court was invalid.

The court held that an application for his release by way of Article 40 was not the appropriate remedy for the issue of remission of prison sentence as raised by Ryan and granted by Mr Justice Max Barrett.

The Supreme Court decision also means that the release of convicted IRA leader Michael McKevitt cannot now succeed and that the release of Niall Farrell by Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, also on the alleged failure to grant him maximum remission, also falls.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton reserved his judgment in the McKevitt case until after today’s Supreme Court decision and will undoubtedly follow the lead of the superior court in rejecting that application for release by way of habeas corpus under Article 40 is inappropriate.

Judge Barton said earlier this week he would return from holiday on Wednesday next to hand down his judgment in the McKevitt case.

Today the Supreme Court, consisting of Chief Justice Susan Dehham, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman and Mr Justice John MacMenamin, allowed the State’s appeal against Judge Barrett’s release of Mr Ryan.  The High Court was, as a result, set aside.

Robert Barron SC, who appeared with barrister Anne-Marie Lawlor for the State, immediately sought the re-arrest of Mr Ryan.  He had argued that Article 40 had been the inappropriate way to seek Ryan’s release and that it should have been done, if at all, by way of judicial review.

Chief Justice Denham said  that Mr Justice Barrett had ordered Mr Ryan be released from detention forthwith on the grounds he was unlawfully detained.

She said Mr Ryan had been convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment to run from May 26, 2010 following conviction of two serious offences of being in possession of a high powered pistol and 15 rounds of ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

His solicitor had applied that Ryan be granted one third remission and had brought an application to the High Court on the basis that because of the refusal of the Minister for Justice to grant the enhanced remission, he was in unlawful detention.

“The traditional remedy of Habeas Corpus, now subsumed in Article 40 of the Constitution, is the great protection of the citizens’ liberty,” the Supreme Court stated.

“It protects our citizens from arbitrary detention and imprisonment without legal warrant, not to mention “disappearances” which, historically and now, are all too common in dictatorial regimes.

“The Courts must always enquire immediately into the grounds of any person’s detention when called upon to do so.  But the fact that every person detained has a right to have the legality of his detention examined by the Superior Courts does not mean that such a person has a right to have every complaint he may have examined under the same extraordinary procedure.

“The validity of Mr Ryan’s detention under the Order of the Circuit Criminal Court has not been challenged in these proceedings but it is said that the failure to grant him enhanced remission of sentence is itself flawed.”

The Supreme Court stated that Mr Ryan’s complaint about the procedures leading to the Minister’s decision may be examined by Judicial Review and not under Article 40.  The special and extraordinary features of the Article 40 procedure were not required for the examination of the complaint brought before the High Court.

Chief Justice Den ham said the order of the Circuit Court showed no invalidity on its face and had not been contested.  Habeas Corpus was not the appropriate remedy for the issue of prison sentence remission.

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