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Convicted murderer staging jailhouse dirty protest wins High Court permission to challenge decision to remove him from cellblock

By Alan Erwin

Published 29/04/2015

Michael Yeo (22) threatened to kill her in the incident, during which he crashed into another vehicle, prosecutors claimed
Michael Yeo (22) threatened to kill her in the incident, during which he crashed into another vehicle, prosecutors claimed

A convicted murderer staging a jailhouse dirty protest today won High Court permission to challenge a decision to remove him from his cellblock.

Granting leave for Victor Kennedy to seek a judicial review, Mr Justice Treacy also urged him to end a stand-off which has resulted in him being kept in solitary confinement for more than a month.

The 37-year-old is serving a life term for battering schoolteacher Michael McGinnis to death in order to steal his mobile phone.

Mr McGinnis, a former Royal Navy sailor who once taught English children in Korea, was killed in Limavady in 2007.

Kennedy, an alcoholic, confessed to pushing the 37-year-old victim down steps and kicking him before going through his pockets for a phone he planned to sell to buy drink.

He has since been given an extra sentence for throwing boiling water over another inmate at HMP Maghaberry.

His legal action centres on being ordered to move from the jail's Roe House wing.

The decision followed a further alleged assault on a prisoner in one of the cells.

Kennedy denies any involvement and has never been charged.

He claims to have gone to help the victim after witnessing the attack.

But after a period of segregation he refused to go to the Lagan House wing of the prison.

He has also wrecked a cell as part of his campaign over the action against him.

The court heard he has now been held in solitary confinement for nearly 40 days.  

For much of that period he has continued with a so-called dirty protest over his treatment.

As part of Kennedy's legal challenge barrister Sean Mullan argued that the decision to move his client within the jail was flawed.

Ruling on the first stage of the case today, Mr Justice Treacy said it was not clear which rules the prison governor was acting under.

He also identified a lack of information on what steps were taken to investigate the alleged assault.

The judge held: "I am satisfied the applicant has established an arguable case and propose to grant leave on all grounds."

With the case now set to be examined at a full hearing, Mr Justice Treacy urged Kennedy to go to Lagan House.

He added: "The applicant's legal representatives should... specifically inform him of the court's exhortation for him to end his dirty protest in the knowledge this matter will now be looked at."

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