Veronica Guerin killer Meehan takes first steps to freedom and could be out in just 5 years
Gangland killer Brian Meehan is taking his first steps towards freedom after being transferred from a maximum security prison.
It has emerged that Meehan (50), from Crumlin, will be transferred to Wheatfield Prison, having spent the past two decades in Portlaoise.
He was the only person ever convicted in connection with journalist Veronica Guerin's murder.
"Somehow he convinced the parole board that the time is right to begin preparing him for release," a source told the Sunday World.
"Step one is taking him out of a maximum security environment and placing him in a normal prison setting.
"Step two is to resocialise him, and step three will see him moved to an open centre like Shelton Abbey in Wicklow."
It is understood that if he remains on good behaviour, he could be released within five years.
Meehan has been serving a life sentence for the murder of Sunday Independent journalist Ms Guerin, who was shot dead in her car on the Naas Road on June 26, 1996.
He was convicted by the Special Criminal Court in July 1999. It was the prosecution's case that he drove the motorbike used in the murder.
However, Meehan contends that material disclosed for the 2001 trial of John Gilligan shows his 1999 conviction was a miscarriage of justice.
Gilligan was convicted on drugs charges.
In June 2013, Meehan was caught smuggling drugs into prison that were brought to him by a visitor.
Officers had approached Meehan and found he was concealing a quantity of cannabis. CCTV footage revealed the drug changed hands during a visit by a relation of his.
Meehan's visitor passed him the cannabis, which he quickly concealed in his body. He lost privileges but stayed in the same cell he had occupied since 2009.
The average life sentence for murder is 22 years, and it was expected that Meehan would be behind bars for longer.
Ms Guerin's murder caused outrage, with then Taoiseach John Bruton calling it an attack on democracy.
Within a week of the murder, the Oireachtas had enacted the Proceeds of Crime Act, which led to the enhancement of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act.
Meehan fled to Amsterdam after the murder but was later arrested and extradited.