Garda killer seeks release

A man who has spent decades behind bars for the murder of a Garda sergeant has brought a High Court action which, if successful, would result in his immediate release from prison.

Michael McHugh, who shot Sgt Patrick Morrissey dead following an armed robbery in 1985, was initially sentenced to death for the murder in December of that year. That sentence was later commuted to 40 years’ penal servitude.

McHugh has served his sentence at the maximum security Portlaoise Prison.

In High Court proceedings against the governor of the prison, the minister for justice, the Irish Prison Service, and the DPP, McHugh claims when the 25% remission generally granted to incarcerated persons is taken into account, he is due for release after 30 years.

However, he claims he is not being given credit for five months he spent in custody, between July 3 and December 3, 1985, before his trial for the garda’s murder concluded.

The application is being opposed by the State parties, on grounds including McHugh does not have an automatic entitlement to be given credit for the five months in question.

It is also argued by the defendants they do not have the power to take the five months into account as the original court sentence imposed was the death penalty.

McHugh and Noel Callan were convicted by the non-jury Special Criminal Court in December 1985 of the murder of Sgt Morrissey at Rathbrist, Tallanstown, on June 27, 1985, following an armed robbery at Ardee Labour Exchange.

The hearing before Mr Justice Paul McDermott, continues.


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