A DUBLIN man suspected of a violent killing was given temporary release twice and should have been in jail at the time.
The Herald can reveal that the career criminal was set free from prison on two occasions shortly before an attack in which a man died violently – and released a third time from a garda station.
The suspect cannot be named for legal reasons, but his case is set to be the subject of major Department of Justice and Prison Service investigations. Fine Gael Justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan today described the case as “gravely disquieting”.
The nightmare error came to light when another young man was left dead, and was disclosed to this paper by garda and prison sources who insisted that overcrowding within the jail system is responsible.
It follows a similar case last year in which a man on temporary release was suspected of killing an innocent man. Details of that case cannot be revealed, again for legal reasons.
In the Dublin case revealed today, the man was let out of prison twice on temporary release and later freed from a garda station, after committing an offence.
He had previously been taken to Mountjoy Prison on two occaions by the gardai after being found unlawfully at large, having not returned after his period of release.
The catastrophic catalogue of events began when the killing suspect was first given temporary release last year. He did not comply with the conditions of his release and was arrested for being unlawfully at large.
The criminal was brought back to Mountjoy Prison but was released again on TR, just four days later. Despite being warned against further breaches of his release agreement the man again returned to crime.
He was later arrested by officers from Mountjoy garda station on suspicion of committing an offence in the north inner city. Hours after the arrest, the man was freed from custody and not returned to prison.
Weeks later, the man became the chief suspect for the attack which led to the violent death of another man on a city street.
Spokespeople for the Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and the Irish Prison Service refused to comment on the man’s release when contacted by the Herald.
The similar case in 2009 is the subject of a Prison Service investigation, it is understood. Official comment cannot be made on the 2009 case at this point for legal reasons.
Revelations of the Dublin case came as it emerged that 248 people were on temporary release from Mountjoy Prison last week.
Fine Gael's spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Law Reform Charlie Flanagan lambasted the temporary release of the career criminal in the Dublin case.
“We have a dysfunctional prison system where overcrowding is a real problem, and temporary release is being used as a valve to solve the overcrowding problem.
“It’s gravely disquieting that anyone on temporary release should commit a crime, and this is another example of a failure in the system.”
Mr Flanagan stressed that temporary release should be a rare allowance given to prisoners who’ve shown exceptionally good behaviour.
“Temporary, or early, or compassionate release should only be granted in the strictest of circumstances, and always when the prisoner has been on good behaviour.
“We need a root and branch review of our prison system, and we need to find out why so many are being released back into the system when so many are posing a threat.”
Mr Flanagan has been campaigning for electronic tagging of prisoners who are on early or temporary release, since he says it’s the most accurate form of tracking prisoners.