Man released from jail after lawyers challenge prison's video-link Covid 19 policy

Man released from jail after lawyers challenge prison's video-link Covid 19 policy
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A man is to be released from jail following settlement of a High Court action in which his lawyers alleged there was an unconstitutional prison policy of not bringing inmates for video-link court appearances due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The 27-year-old man is alleged to have on April 27 breached a protection order taken out by his former partner.

The court heard he was never in trouble before, had no previous convictions or outstanding arrest warrants and would normally be granted bail pending trial on such a charge. He was arrested after a fracas with the son of his ex-partner in her home.

On Wednesday, Seamus Clarke SC, with Keith Spencer BL, told Ms Justice Eileen Creedon that following discussions with lawyers for Cloverhill Remand Prison in Dublin, where his client has been since April 27, it had been agreed he could be released on High Court bail of €200 with certain conditions, including staying away from her ex-partner, pending trial.

As a result, the proceedings were struck out by agreement.

Earlier, Mr Clarke said after his client was arrested on April 27 he appeared in Dublin District Court, was refused bail and was remanded in custody to Cloverhill to appear in court again on May 1.

But at the next court hearing, a certificate from Cloverhill medical authorities was handed into court saying he was in isolation and unfit to attend court via video-link. Mr Clarke said that court attendance meant bringing him into a room in the prison for appearance by video-link only.

A similar situation arose in a High Court application for bail yesterday, when the prison set out its policy in relation to isolation. He was again not produced by video link and remanded in continuing custody to appear on May 13.

His lawyers said despite the prison authorities’ claims the man has the virus or was in contact with someone who had, he himself says he is not sick and has displayed no symptoms of the virus.

He also has not been in any contact with someone in prison who had the virus, his lawyers said. He could also have been tested to verify his situation, they said.

The prison chaplain told his solicitor, Michele Finan, he was not coping well, was psychologically vulnerable and in "a particularly bad way". He was never in prison before.

Remanding him in custody for three weeks without a court appearance by video-link solely on the basis he may have had contact with someone with Covid-19 failed to respect his constitutional right to liberty, it was claimed.

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