A man jailed for slashing the neck of a doctor has cleared the first stage in a High Court battle to show he can be released from custody.
Michael Larkin is serving a 10-year prison sentence for trying to murder the medic at Craigavon Area Hospital.
He was also convicted of attacking two mental health workers with a sharpened toothbrush handle during incidents in 2014.
The 31-year-old, with a previous address at Altnaveigh Park in Newry, was found guilty of attempted murder and wounding with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.
During his trial the court heard he attacked the doctor from behind with a blade, slashed him twice on the neck and above the eyelid.
Days later he launched further assaults on members of staff at the hospital’s psychiatric unit.
Under the terms of his extended licence sentence the Parole Commissioners will decide if and when he can be freed.
Legal action was brought after he was refused direct release in December 2020.
Larkin’s legal challenge is focused on an alleged failure by the Prison Service to permit him periods of pre-release testing to demonstrate he is suitable for life outside jail.
His lawyers claim the arrangements are a breach of human rights and arbitrarily preventing his release.
Leave to apply for judicial review was granted at a hearing in front of Mr Justice Scoffield, the Courts Service confirmed.
The case has now been listed for a full hearing in May.
Outside court Larkin’s solicitor, Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law, said: “We are concerned that our client remains imprisoned in circumstances which are arbitrary and deprive him of any prospect of rehabilitation and release.
“This frustrates the purpose of his sentence, and does nothing to benefit Mr Larkin, the Prison Service or society as a whole.”