FG defends clemency plea by Mitchell for double murderer

A CLEMENCY plea by Gay Mitchell for an anti-abortion fanatic who murdered two people was defended by the Fine Gael presidential candidate last night.

Then the party’s spokesman on foreign affairs, Mr Mitchell made the appeal in 2003 in a bid to prevent double killer Paul Hill being given a lethal injection on Florida’s death row.

Former presbyterian minister Hill was convicted of the murder of a doctor and his bodyguard outside an abortion clinic in the US state in 1994.

Mr Mitchell pleaded at the time that Hill had committed a senseless crime, but that executing him would only perpetuate the cycle of taking life.

Then Florida governor Jeb Bush ignored the plea and Hill — who said he was a martyr for his anti-abortion cause — was put to death by injection.

Mr Mitchell’s spokesperson denied comparisons could be drawn between the intervention and the controversy which David Norris became involved in.

“Mr Mitchell did it because he is an implacable opponent of the death penalty.

“It is different [to the Norris situation] in that he was seeking that the death penalty be replaced by a term in prison. He wasn’t seeking mitigation,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Mitchell has also intervened on behalf of other prisoners facing the death penalty, the spokesperson said.

Prior to the spectacular withdrawal from the presidential race by Mr Norris, the most high-profile political casualty of involvement in legal cases came in 2002 when former PD Minister Bobby Molloy resigned. He was forced to quit after becoming involved in the case of rapist Patrick Naughton.

A person representing the then Galway West TD attempted to contact a judge to ascertain if letters from Naughton’s sister had been received. The intervention was branded “quite improper” by the judge and Molloy resigned within hours.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

Breaking Stories

Woman in 50s discovered unconscious and injured in Carlow

Two men airlifted from Galtee Mountains

Halligan pledges support to Ross over appointment of Máire Whelan

Two arrested in murder bid probe after man struck with hatchet

Lifestyle

Inistearaght: The Blasket that looks like a Skellig

Meet the woman turning the oceans’ trash into photographic gold

20 years later, people are still spellbound by Harry Potter

A passion for Harry Potter - the books that taught a generation about friendship, courage and learning

More From The Irish Examiner