Killer wins legal case against prison over his 50 days in solitary
A convicted killer who staged a jailhouse dirty protest has won a High Court ruling after he was moved into solitary confinement.
Victor Kennedy is serving a life sentence for battering a Co Londonderry schoolteacher to death in order to steal his mobile phone.
The 37-year-old victim, a former Royal Navy sailor who once taught English children in Korea, was found lying at the bottom of concrete steps at Blackburn Path in Limavady.
He had suffered multiple rib fractures, a broken sternum and had a chamber of his heart ruptured in the attack.
Kennedy, an alcoholic, confessed to pushing Michael McGinnis down steps and then kicking him in the side before going through his pockets for a phone he planned to sell to buy drink.
The 37-year-old killer was being held within the Roe House wing of Maghaberry Prison.
But he was ordered to move following an incident in March after some inmates were involved in a violent confrontation.
Kennedy, who denied involvement in an alleged assault, was put into solitary confinement for refusing to co-operate.
According to his legal team he was held there for more than 50 days before being moved to another wing.
For much of that period he maintained a so-called dirty protest over his treatment.
He issued judicial review proceedings against the Prison Service, with his barrister Sean Mullan arguing that the decision to move his client within the jail was flawed.
Ruling on the case, Lord Justice Weatherup declared that the relevant rules require prison authorities to notify an Independent Monitoring Board of any incidents of prisoners being placed in segregated conditions, including those staging a dirty protest.
A further declaration was made that Kennedy was unlawfully segregated for a period of time without proper authority.
However, the judge rejected claims that he should not have been suspected of involvement in the alleged assault.
Kennedy was sentenced to at least 14 years in prison for murdering Mr McGinnis in July 2007.
Originally he was not to be eligible for release until at least 2022.
However, he is now expected to spend an extra five years behind bars.
Following the ruling, Kennedy's lawyer claimed it raised serious concerns about prisons in Northern Ireland.
Katie McAllister of Madden & Finucane Solicitors, said: "This case highlights the failures of the Prison Service to properly apply the prison rules in cases where prisoners are subjected to the most draconian measure of solitary confinement."