Roy Norman Kenyon (64) had been serving his sentence for the murder of Margaret Potts, an elderly shopkeeper who he beat to death with a poker in 1972 when he was a teenager.
Addressing Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, Mr Ronan Kennedy BL, for the Minister for Justice & Equality, revealed how Mr Kenyon absconded while on licence from HMP Leyhill in 2003, after serving 31 years of his sentence.
Mr Kennedy revealed how Mr Kenyon had been at large for the past 15 years after failing to return from his home leave on the 29th of May 2003 and how there is currently a European Arrest Warrant for Mr Kenyon’s return to the United Kingdom.
He explained how after escaping custody, Mr Kenyon had spent 15 years living in Tullamore, under the alias of Alan McPherson, before being arrested in the village of Eyeries, Co. Cork on the 2nd of May 2018.
Addressing the night of the crime, Mr Kennedy told the court how on the 15th of December 1972, Mr Kenyon had been “consuming alcohol at a public house” when he left at 9pm to purchase alcohol from Mrs Potts.
However, Mr Kenyon soon got into an “argument” with Mrs Potts before hitting her “two times in the head with a poker, while she sat in an armchair.”
Mr Kennedy told the court that over the years, there were a number of “comprehensive reviews of the case and a number of actions undertaken” but that there was “nothing to suggest” Mr Kenyon “had left the country or had any ties with anyone outside of the United Kingdom.”
Mr Kenyon’s barrister, Sean Guerin SC, addressed to court by saying that Mr Kennedy had missed many of the “striking features of this case.”
Mr Guerin pointed out how “the bald and ageing head of Mr Kenyon, an offender of 64 years” was “nonetheless a child offender” at the time the crime was committed.
It is an “exceptional state of affairs that a child offender has spent 31 years in custody and at this point almost 50 years later” that there is still a “desire to return him to custody” Mr Guerin told the court.
Mr Guerin pointed out how Mr Kenyon’s “mental development and maturity” at the time of the offence are factors that must be considered.
He also made the argument that Mr Kenyon’s sentence was an “indeterminate” one made “at her Majesty’s pleasure” and that this sentence is “not a case of life in prison in the formal sense” but rather “it is a different type of sentence that is imposed on a child offender which is not a true life sentence.”
Mr Guerin continued by explaining to the court that this is “not a case where you are dealing with a person who has committed any offence while at liberty” and that there is “no indication” that Mr Kenyon “is a risk to the public” anymore.
Mr Guerin revealed how Mr Kenyon had “no release date to work towards” after facing six parole hearings and that this is the reason he chose to escape custody.
Referring to the time Mr Kenyon’s parole was denied after he consumed alcohol while on home leave, Mr Guerin called this a “minor breach of a minor condition.”
Mr Guerin also criticised the central authority in the United Kingdom for failing to supply information relating to Mr Kenyon’s case including the affidavit.
Addressing suggestions that Mr Kenyon had “adjudications for selling drugs” and “positive drug tests,” Mr Guerin explained that while in prison Mr Kenyon was prescribed a strong painkiller “which may have had an impact on drug tests.”
Mr Kennedy later responded to Mr Guerin’s critique of the parole board by stating that there was “never a suggestion before this afternoon that the objections” made by the board were “unlawful” or in relation to the fact Mr Kenyon “had a drink” while on temporary leave.
Mr Kenyon has been remanded in custody by Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly until the 20th of March when his case will continue.