Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Garda murderer granted remission

The Supreme Court has granted remission to a man who was jailed for 40 years

A man jailed for 40 years and denied early release for murdering a Garda in a robbery has been granted remission by the Supreme Court.

Noel Callan was 22 when he was sentenced to death in 1985 - later commuted to the extended jail term - for the killing of unarmed Sergeant Patrick Morrissey following an armed raid in Ardee, Co Louth.

The 50-year-old, originally from Cullaville, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, had claimed he was entitled to remission of a quarter or up to one-third of the prison sentence.

The five judge appeal court ruled in his favour and said he should be considered for remission and that he is also eligible for the higher level of reduction in sentence off for good behaviour.

It is understood Callan, who was described during the case as a model prisoner, will be classed as entitled to one quarter remission. His release date is expected to be some time in 2015, in June that year, if time on remand is taken into account.

Judge Adrian Hardiman said Sgt Morrissey was callously murdered in cold blood.

Callan had been with an accomplice, Michael McHugh, on June 27 1985 when they went to rob the labour exchange in Ardee. In the getaway, they crashed a motorbike and the injured Callan fled the scene of the accident and heard two gunshots from a distance.

Sgt Morrissey was first shot in a leg by McHugh who then executed him with a bullet to the head.

"The late Sergeant Morrissey emerges as a courageous, indeed heroic servant of the State," Judge Hardiman said. "He pursued armed robbers despite the obvious dangers of doing so and was subjected to a gratuitous but fatal assault by being shot in the head as he lay on the ground already disabled."

Callan was convicted of murder on the basis of common design and lied under oath that he had played no part in the robbery. He was jailed in Portlaoise prison during the trial and held on the INLA wing with McHugh, from Clonalig, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, and the notorious terrorist known as the Border Fox, Dessie O'Hare.

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