Former TD and minister Ivor Callely will not have to return to prison following the State’s decision to allow him enhanced remission on the prison sentence he received for fraudulently claiming Oireachtas expenses on forged mobile phone invoices.
Mr Callely’s solicitors yesterdayconfirmed that his application to the justice minister for enhanced remission had been successful. As a result, he will not have to return to Wheatfield Prison for six days to serve out the remainder of his five-month sentence.
In July, the High Court quashed a refusal by the minister to grant him remission of sentence. His application was then remitted to the Prison Services for re-consideration.
Pádraig O’Donovan & Co Solicitors, who represent Mr Callely, confirmed the former politician had received a letter from the Operations Directorate of the Irish Prison Service informing him of the minister’s change of mind. The decision, which was notified to Mr Callely on August 20, follows the ruling of Mr Justice Anthony Barr quashing the initial decision of the minister. Judge Barr found the minister had failed to take all relevant matters into account, which she is obliged to do, when arriving at her decision.
The State is not appealing the High Court’s decision.
Barrister Kieran Kelly last year challenged the ministerial decision not to grant Mr Callely’s enhanced remission and seeking his temporary release from prison. He claimed he was entitled to one-third remission of his sentence, as opposed to the normal one-quarter, because he demonstrated good behaviour by participating in structured prison activities, and was unlikely to re-offend.
Mr Kelly argued the minister’s decisions were unfair and that Mr Callely was not being treated the same as prisoners who committed more serious crimes. Callely claimed he was told by prison staff he should have been released early and was only being kept there because of his high profile and the fact he was “a hot potato”. He claimed he was punished twice.
In his judgment Mr Justice Barr said an error of material significance was made when the decision maker had failed to properly assess the available evidence as to the manner and the extent to which Mr Callely had engaged with the authorised structured activities available to him. These factors included reports from an assistant prison governor that there was very little chance of Callely reoffending, that he was a first-time offender and that he had engaged fully with all the services and structured activities available to him in prison.
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