JAILED drug dealer John Gilligan will have to face the outcome of a charge of unlawfully having had a mobile phone in his prison cell, a High Court judge decided yesterday.
Gilligan, who is serving a lengthy prison sentence in Portlaoise, faces a maximum jail sentence of 12 months or fine if convicted of the alleged phone offence.
Under prison rules Gilligan has already lost 56 days remission for the alleged offence.
He had then been charged with a criminal offence before the District Court and in legal submissions. His barrister, Martin Canny, had raised the question of double jeopardy – being punished twice for the same offence.
District Court judge Gerard Haughton had decided that the 56 day forfeiture of privileges did not operate as a bar to Gilligan’s criminal prosecution.
In a consultative case stated Judge Haughton had asked the High Court if he was correct in law in his ruling.
Mr Justice Sean Ryan, who earlier this week heard legal argument regarding the double jeopardy issue, yesterday held in favour of Judge Haughton’s ruling.
Judge Sean Ryan said he agreed with the conclusion of District Court Judge Gerard Haughton that the prison disciplinary procedure did not constitute a criminal trial.
He said he accepted the argument of barrister Paul Anthony McDermott that there was no legal authority for the argument that double jeopardy applied in the case.
“The cumulative effect of the maximum prison sanction and the fact that it is in the nature of reduction of remission do not bring the prison disciplinary regime into the criminal category,” Judge Ryan said.
Double jeopardy could only arise where there had been a previous criminal trial. The disciplinary proceeding in the prison and the prosecution in court were wholly different.
Judge Ryan refused Gilligan’s application to strike down the District Court prosecution on the grounds of double jeopardy and sent the matter back to the District Court for completion of the trial.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved