Vicious killer seeks transfer out of Mountjoy

Convicted murderer Mark Nash has complained about being jeered at in prison and says he has become distressed and depressed because he has no access to work or study.

The vicious killer wants to be transferred to Arbour Hill prison where he will serve an easier sentence.

The High Court was told he feels his life is under threat from other prisoners in Mountjoy Jail where he is on 23-hour lock-up. He is seeking orders permitting his transfer back to Arbour Hill prison where he had already served 15 years of a life sentence for the murder in 1997 of two people in Ballintober, Co Roscommon.

On April 20, Nash, aged 42, was given another life sentence after he was found guilty of the separate murders of Sylvia Sheils, 59, and Mary Callanan, 61, at their sheltered housing in Grangegorman, in Dublin, also in 1997. That is to run from the date of his sentencing last month.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty yesterday granted leave to Hugh Hartnett, for Nash, to challenge the refusal of the Irish Prison Service to transfer him back to Arbour Hill from Mountjoy.

Mr Hartnett said during his 15 years in Arbour Hill he had settled down and was leading a peaceful life and did not present any problems to authorities save for “some minor difficulties with drugs” in the prison.

He was out of his cell for seven-and-a-half hours a day in contrast to the regime he is now under in Mountjoy where he is in 23-hour lock-up, counsel said. During the one hour he gets out of his cell, he is jeered by other prisoners whose cells overlook the exercise yard.

He is in fear for his life from other prisoners and is held in the medical section not because of any health problem but because of the risk posed to him from other inmates.

He has now spent more than 15 days in lock-up which the European Court says should be the limit for solitary confinement because people suffer from psychosis and other forms of distress if held longer, he said.

While it is normal after sentencing to be lodged in Mountjoy, he had expected he would be sent back to Arbour Hill, counsel said.

Now however, it appears he is to be transferred to the Midlands Prison where he would be under the same threat from other inmates.

The action is against the chief executive of the prison service, the minister for justice, Ireland and the attorney general, with the governors of Mountjoy and Arbour Hill as notice parties.

Mr Justice Moriarty said the case could come back before the court next week.

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