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Jail inmate judged too dangerous to release had his rights violated
14 April 2010 --
A life sentence prisoner who robbed two post officers could be given
compensation after a court ordered that his human rights had been violated.
A parole board breached the rights of Co Tyrone man James Reilly by refusing to
release him on licence without giving him an oral hearing, the High Court has
Reilly, who was jailed for raids on two Post Offices in London, is now
considering seeking damages for the denial.
The 41-year-old was given a six years and eight months tariff in January 2003
after being convicted of robbery, attempted robbery and possession of an
imitation firearm at the Old Bailey.
He was later transferred to Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn, Co Antrim, with his
tariff expiry date calculated as being September 20, 2009.
Reilly was turned down for release by a panel who held the risk remained too
They referred to his poor disciplinary record and continued inability to remain
Reilly was also told the earliest date at which he could have an oral hearing
would be December 2010 — 15 months after the expiry of his tariff.
Reilly's legal team launched a judicial review case against the Parole Board of
England and Wales, who retain jurisdiction over his sentence.
His lawyers argued the decision was contrary to common law, unfair and breached
Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) dealing with the
right to liberty.
They argued that the reason he failed drugs test was because of medication
prescribed for a medical condition.
After hearing the case Mr Justice Treacy ruled that fairness required a full and
adequate opportunity to explore the issues at an oral hearing.
The judge found: “The decision of the parole board dated July 20, 2009, refusing
the applicant release on licence without giving him an oral hearing, in the
circumstances of this case, violated Article 5(4) and common law.”
With the decision not to grant the hearing expected to be quashed, Reilly's
solicitor Fearghal Shiels, of Madden and Finucane, claimed the denial had been
based on trivial incidents or failed drugs tests which created a false
Mr Shiels said: “The particular circumstances of Mr Reilly's case demanded that
an adversarial oral hearing was required in order to test the reasons to refuse
him his release on licence.
“The decision that our client's human rights have been violated is to be
welcomed and we will now consider seeking damages on his behalf.”