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Attempted murder accused loses his legal challenge over '23-hour lock-up' on remand


Caolan Smyth (pictured) is to go on trial for attempted murder of Hutch gang associate James ‘Mago’ Gately

Caolan Smyth (pictured) is to go on trial for attempted murder of Hutch gang associate James ‘Mago’ Gately

Caolan Smyth (pictured) is to go on trial for attempted murder of Hutch gang associate James ‘Mago’ Gately


A remand prisoner awaiting trial for the attempted murder of an associate of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch has lost a legal challenge over his detention in the segregation unit of the Midlands Prison.

Caolan Smyth (28), of Cuileann Court, Donore, Co Meath, had issued judicial review proceedings against the governor of the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, the Irish Prison Service and the Justice Minister over claims he was locked in a cell for 23 hours a day.

Mr Smyth is due to go on trial in the Special Criminal Court in October on a charge of the attempted murder of James 'Mago' Gately at a Topaz garage in Clonshaugh, Co Dublin, on May 10, 2017.


He challenged the decision of the governor to have him segregated because the prison authorities had information that there was a threat to his life.

However, the High Court ruled that Mr Smyth was not subjected to the restrictive regime he claimed.


James 'Mago' Gately

James 'Mago' Gately

James 'Mago' Gately

Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty said the decision by the prison authorities to make Mr Smyth a protected prisoner was "not arbitrary or irrational".

"It was based on confidential information and there is no basis on which to quash that decision," she added.

Mr Smyth claimed he was not aware of any threat to his life and did not believe the prisoners, who the prison authorities regarded as a threat, held any animosity towards him.

He said the supposed threat was "a convenient mechanism for the governor to keep me on 23-hour lock-up", which was affecting his physical and mental health.

An assistant prison governor provided an affidavit that he had received credible information that there was a serious, continuing and viable threat to the prisoner's life.

He claimed the information needed to be treated as highly confidential.

Lawyers for Mr Smyth had argued that the confidential information known to the prison authorities should be open to review, and he could not make meaningful objections without knowing the reason why he was being segregated from other prisoners.

In her ruling, Ms Justice Gearty criticised Mr Smyth's lack of candour over his failure to state in affidavits that it was his refusal to mingle with certain other prisoners that formed the basis for his claim that he was being actively prevented from associating with others.


The judge said he had been denied a request to meet with two specific prisoners.

One request was refused because of disciplinary proceedings involving the other prisoner, and the second was due to the threat to Mr Smyth from associates of the second prisoner.

Ms Justice Gearty said it was incorrect to classify Mr Smyth as a prisoner not permitted to associate with other inmates.

"He chooses to remain apart from others," she said.

She added that Mr Smyth now accepted he was not locked in his cell for 23 hours a day and that he was afforded at least two hours' daily recreation.

The judge said he had not provided any evidence to show that he was not permitted to engage in structured activities and had not sought to see medical staff in relation to any health issues.