Prisoner challenges minister over release

A man jailed for 10 years for his role in an armed burglary where a family was held hostage and robbed has brought High Court proceedings aimed at securing his early release from prison.

Brian McGinley: Seeking bail until case is heard

The action has been brought by Brian McGinley, aged 43, who has challenged a decision by the justice minister not to grant him additional or enhanced remission of 33% off his prison sentence.

Prisoners are normally given 25% remission off their sentences, and are entitled to apply to the justice minister for additional remission, of up to 33%, for good behaviour.

McGinley, currently incarcerated in Castlerea Prison, argues he is entitled to enhanced remission because he is a model prisoner and has engaged in a number of structured activities in the prison, including gardening.

In 2010 McGinley was convicted by a Mullingar Circuit Criminal Court jury of aggravated burglary committed at the home of businessman Damien Kilmartin in Glasson, Athlone, on February 13, 2005.

McGinley, formerly of Blackberry Lane, Athlone, had denied being part of a gang wielding a sledgehammer, a baseball bat, and iron bars who burst through the back door of the Kilmartins’ family home.

Mr Kilmartin and his wife were tied up, held for over two hours, and threatened in front of their three children and Mr Kilmartin’s niece.

Mr Kilmartin was threat-ened with buggery by one of the gang if he did not hand over keys to a safe in the house.

A Jeep valued at €92,000 was stolen by the gang and jewellery and cash totalling almost €120,000 were taken.

The raiders carried the safe from the house to a car and, at some stage, one of them suffered a blood injury.

There was DNA evidence at trial that blood found on the boot lid of a car at the scene matched that of McGinley’s.

McGinley failed in an appeal against his sentence and conviction in 2013.

He has secured permission from the High Court to bring a judicial review action seeking to quash a decision by the justice minister earlier this year to refusal to grant him enhanced remission.

His judicial review action has been brought on grounds including that the minister considered an opinion about McGinley from the gardaí before making the decision not to grant the offender enhanced remission.

The matter returned before Mr Justice Richard Humphreys at the High Court yesterday.

Lawyers for McGinley asked the High Court to grant him bail pending the outcome of his action against the minister.

His lawyers say that if he is not granted bail, his challenge against the minister’s decision will become moot or pointless.

It was argued that if granted enhanced remission, McGinley would have been released sometime in July.

If his application for enhanced remission is unsuccessful, and he gets the normal 25% remission, he is due for release in May 2018.

His case may not be heard by then, the court heard.

The State, which argues that McGinley committed a very serious violent crime, has opposed the bail application.

Mr Justice Humphrey said he would give his decision on the bail application in the next two weeks.

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