Thursday 5 December 2019

Sex offender challenges decision to transfer him to another prison

Aodhan O'Faolain

A CONVICTED sex offender has brought a High Court challenge aimed at reversing the decision to transfer him from one prison to another.

The action has been brought by Niall Healy, who is currently serving a 20-year sentence for offences including aggravated sexual assault, arising out of his transfer last October to Wheatfield Prison from Arbour Hill Prison.

Healy (36) of Palmerstown Wood, Clondalkin, Dublin, has brought the action because he claims that as a result of being moved he is unable to complete a psychological treatment programme for those convicted of sexual crimes.

Lawyers for Healy told the court that Arbour Hill is the only prison that provides a particular programme, called ‘Building Better Lives’ for the treatment of convicted sex offenders.

As a result of the transfer he is unable to complete the course, which is something he wishes to do. Despite making several requests, no reason has been given to Healy or his lawyers why the transfer took place.

In 2006 Healy was convicted of sexually assaulting and falsely imprisoning a woman he offered to drive home.

Healy received a 20-year sentence in the Central Criminal Court for aggravated sexual assault and the same term for falsely imprisoning the woman, with 10 years of both sentences suspended.

Mr Justice Barry White suspended half of the 20-year sentences on condition Healy avails of a sex offenders programme in prison and makes himself amenable to probation upon release.

The Judge also took into account that Healy had been convicted of rape in 1993.

His lawyers claim that the transfer now makes the fulfilment of these conditions more difficult because he cannot complete the course.

Healy, the court heard, is due for release in February of next year.

In his action against the Irish Prison Service and the Minister for Justice Healy is seeking an order quashing the decision to transfer him from Arbour Hill to Wheatfield.

He is also seeking various declarations from the court including that the decision to transfer him is breaches his rights to natural and constitutional justice, and that he is entitled to reasons why he was transferred.

Leave to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Michael Peart. The Judge adjourned the matter to a date later this month.

Healy was jailed arising out of sexually assaults committed on a then 19-year-old woman early in the morning of July 20, 2001, at a housing estate.

She was looking for the home of a female friend when he approached her and claimed to be the woman's brother.

Healy gave her his mobile phone to contact her boyfriend, who advised her to go back to her own home as he was tired and had to get up early for work.

Healy also spoke briefly to her boyfriend and agreed to drive the woman home but he later parked by a canal and sexually assaulted her.

In the process he activated his phone and the victim's boyfriend gave evidence during the trial in June of hearing his girlfriend screaming in the voice mail messages left on his (the boyfriends) mobile phone.

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