Prisoner wins right to visit ill relative
Prison chiefs breached a convicted robber's human rights by refusing to let him out to see his terminally-ill grandmother, a High Court judge has ruled.
David Smith is now set to be temporarily released after winning his legal challenge to the decision.
Mr Justice Treacy said: "The current situation seems like now or never so far as his grandmother is concerned. He is so near the end of his sentence that not being able to see (her) before she dies is in my view disproportionate."
The west Belfast man wanted compassionate temporary release from HMP Magilligan to visit the sick relative. His application was refused, partly because prison staff would not be able to escort him to the area due to security risks. Issues about potential reoffending or absconding were also raised.
Smith's legal team mounted a judicial review challenge, with his barrister Sean Mullan arguing that it breached his family life entitlements under the European Convention on Human Rights. The court heard that he is due to be freed in August, and can apply for pre-release home leave in less than two months time.
Ruling on the case yesterday, Mr Justice Treacy noted that Smith was previously granted bail to visit another seriously ill relative and complied with all terms.
He said the refusal of compassionate temporary release was a breach of Smith's human rights. Prison authorities are now expected to make arrangements for the visit.