Wayne Dundon in court in challenge over jail isolation
JAILED Limerick criminal Wayne Dundon had a brief trip to court in the company of two armed gardai and three prison officers for a legal challenge over being kept in the high security isolation unit of a prison.
Dundon (35), who is serving a six year sentence for witness intimidation, wants the High Court to overturn Cloverhill Prison's refusal to remove him from isolation, or to grant him contact visits with his family. He also says he is being denied rehabilitation and education including the opportunity to learn Arabic, Turkish or Spanish.
However, before the case got underway yesterday, he was brought back to prison after a judge was informed there was no need for him to be in court for the case which was being dealt with on the basis of affidavits and legal submissions from lawyers.
Counsel for the State, Deirdre Murphy, said there had been no order that he be produced before the court and he was there at great expense with two armed gardai and a number of prison officers. That would continue to be the position if he continued to be brought into court for his case which is expected to take up to two days to hear, she said.
Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley said while there was no order bringing him before the court, it was a matter for the prison authorities as to whether he should be returned to prison.
After the judge put the case back to hear other matters first, Dundon, who was handcuffed and chained to one of the prison officers throughout his brief appearance, left with his guard detail and the case got underway later without him.
Opening his case, counsel Michael P O'Higgins said the challenge concerned a decision by Cloverhill Prison authorities to isolate him from the mainstream prison population, allow him only screened non-contact visits from his family and deny him, educational, rehabilitation and recreational opportunities. His wife and three children travel from England to visit and cannot have physical contact with him, it is claimed.
The State says isolation was for his own protection and non-contact
visits are the norm. It is also argued that Dundon, who has 23
previous convictions, posed a serious threat to good order in the prison as he had been involved in fights, assaults and other breaches of rules when he previously served time.
The State denies he has no rehabilitation or educational opportunities and language classes are available but not in Arabic or Turkish.
He is currently being held in Mountjoy after assaulting a prison officer in Cloverhill over a month ago, the court heard.
He was sent to Cloverhill in April 2012 when he was given a six year sentence in the Special Criminal Court on charges of threatening to kill and intimidate a witness in a court case.
He claims he had been given no reasonable or legitimate explanation for the restrictions and isolation.
He claims he was not being kept in protective custody but was rather being subject to conditions normally reserved for prisoners who have committed serious transgression while in prison.
He has also not breached any rules in Cloverhill.
In an affidavit, Dundon says that under the conditions of his incarceration in Cloverhill, he has only contact with about three other prisoners in a part of the prison where inmates are either suffering from mental illness, are in protective custody or being punished for breaching prison rules.
The hearing continues.