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Convicted killer Louis Maguire seeking to start hairdressing course, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 17/10/2016

Louis Maguire was found guilty of murder in 2006
Louis Maguire was found guilty of murder in 2006

A convicted killer is seeking to start a hairdressing course after ending a legal action over an alleged denial of education behind bars, it emerged today.

Louis Maguire mounted a High Court challenge to the Northern Ireland Prison Service amid claims he was excluded from the classroom for nearly two years.

But judicial review proceedings have been resolved following a recognition of his right to education.

Maguire, 50, is serving a minimum 24-year sentence for the murder of his wife's former lover.

David "Digger" Barnes was shot dead in Belfast in March 2003.

Gunmen broke into a flat at Brookvale Avenue and targeted Mr Barnes, 39, as he lay in bed.

Maguire, formerly of Whinpark Road in Newtownards, Co Down, was said to have carried out the killing while on weekend leave from serving a prison sentence for robbery.

In 2006 he was jailed for the murder and a separate arson attack on the home of a relative of Mr Barnes.

He issued a legal challenge against the Prison Service for allegedly suspending him from educational courses.

His lawyers were seeking to quash a decision refusing to let him return to the classroom unless he signs an "unwarranted" agreement.

The dispute was said to involve a bar an readmission to the ceramics class in jail.

The situation was understood to relate to an alleged complaint about Maguire's behaviour within HMP Maghaberry.

But the convicted killer's legal team contended that the situation was irrational, disproportionate and breached his human rights.

In court today, however, it was confirmed that a resolution has been reached that will enable Maguire to resume education.

Following the hearing his solicitor, Katie McAllister of Madden and Finucane, indicated that he will be returning to the ceramics class.

She also revealed that her client has applied to be admitted to a hairdressing course.

Ms McAllister added: "This is an important case involving prisoner's rights.

"The Prison Service has now agreed to recognised our client's  right to education and admit him to education classes without any pre-conditions."

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