Saturday 21 April 2018

Two prisoners seek release after law for revocation of suspended sentences struck down

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Two prisoners have initiated challenges to the legality of their detention following a High Court decision that the law allowing for revocation of suspended sentences is unconstitutional.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan said the ruling by Mr Justice Michael Moriarty last Tuesday raised “very significant issues” and it was reasonable to give the State time to address the issues that arose and consider its position.

He granted an application by Conor Power SC, for the State, to adjourn the Article 40 proceedings by both men for hearing on Friday before Mr Justice Paul McDermott.

Micheal P O’Higgins SC, for one of the applicants, said a remand order for purposes of activation of a sentence suspension was the sole basis for his client’s detention and, arising from this week’s ruling, that appeared to fall away.

Mr Power said the legal issue that arose in that particular case may not be as simple as indicated.

Mr Justice Noonan said he would adjourn both applications until tomorrow. The circumstances of both applicants were not outlined during today’s hearing.

Last Tuesday, in a judgment with very important implication for the day to day operation of the criminal justice system, Mr Justice Moriarty declared unconstitutional two subsections of Section 99 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, as amended. Those subsections govern the courts’ powers to revoke suspended sentences.

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