Wednesday 21 March 2018

State may appeal suspended sentencing ruling

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Mr Justice Michael Moriarty. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The State is considering an appeal of the High Court ruling which struck down laws governing the activation of suspended sentences.

The move comes despite earlier assurances from Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald that emergency legislation would be introduced to deal with the issue.

But now Department of Justice officials have said that while emergency legislation is being drafted, the possibility of an appeal is also being explored.

The development comes just over seven weeks after Mr Justice Michael Moriarty struck down parts of Section 99 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 because they interfered with the rights of appeal of prisoners. The ruling came following a challenge from six men to the constitutionality of the law.

Since then the courts have not been activating the suspended sentences of criminals who have re-offended.

At least 15 prisoners have also initiated High Court proceedings arguing they are being unlawfully detained.

Most of those cases have yet to be heard.

Applicants include Alan Hutch, whose father, Eddie Hutch Snr, was among the victims of the gangland feud raging in Dublin.

Lawyers for Hutch (33), who is currently serving a sentence for threatening to kill three gardaí, are set to argue the activation of a suspended sentence he received should be set aside.

One prisoner, Paul Clarke, failed in a bid last month to set aside the activation of his suspended sentence.

A judge found, for reasons including Clarke pleaded guilty to the offences for which suspended terms were imposed and because he never challenged the Section 99 procedure, he was not entitled to benefit from the Moriarty ruling.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section