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Convicted robber given huge compensation after prison mix-up

Robber got payout after serving too much time

By Christopher Woodhouse

Published 16/02/2016

Maghaberry prison.
Maghaberry prison.

A convicted robber has received £22,500 of taxpayers cash — after he was mistakenly held in jail for a year beyond his release date.

Sunday Life can reveal that the violent thug was one of nearly two dozen jailbirds who received pay outs from the Prison Service for being kept behind bars beyond their sentence.

The prison bungles have emerged in answer to a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Justice by this newspaper.

The biggest payout involved a criminal who was due to be released from Maghaberry in 2012 after serving a seven year sentence for robbery and wounding with intent.


But an “administrative error” led to him remaining banged up for a full 365 days beyond the end of his sentence. No staff were disciplined as a result of the error which cost the taxpayer £22,500.

The DoJ, which is oversees the Prison Service, admitted that since 2005 just over £47,000 in compensation was awarded to 23 lags after they were mistakenly kept inside.

In one case an inmate was awarded £5,000 when he was held for five days beyond the end of his eight month sentence for criminal damage and taking and driving away.

The Prison Service said this was due to an “error in calculation” but once again no staff were disciplined for the mistake, which occurred in 2008.

In 2006 a man who had served a 15 month sentence for assault, disorderly behaviour and assault on police got £4,000 after he was held for an extra four days at Maghaberry.


The Prison Service said it had miscalculated time he had spent in custody on remand but no staff were reprimanded.

A man held in Magilligan Prison in Co Londonderry got £3,500 in compensation after he was detained for one day longer than his sentence due to a miscalculation of remission.

In 2009 a sex offender given a four month sentence was awarded £2,000 in compensation after they were held for three days beyond their proper release date.

The Prison Service said the error occurred as there was no form showing how much time the sex offender had spent in police custody.

They offender was held at Hydebank Wood jail near Belfast which holds women and young offenders.

It’s not just Prison Service errors which have led to offenders doing extra porridge.

A prisoner was mistakenly detained for 11 days at Hydebank due to a mistake by court staff.

The offender was put away for eight months in 2010 after being convicted of making threats to kill, common assault and assaulting police.

But a member of the Court Service made a mistake when recording the sentence and the Prison Service did not have to pay any compensation.

The Prison Service has a more reliable record when it comes to releasing inmates before the end of their sentence.

Since 2010 just four prisoners were freed early, all from Maghaberry.

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