Bomb plot prisoner to challenge Maghaberry jail punishments for associating with Colin Duffy (Belfast Telegraph)

A man jailed over a mortar bomb plot today won legal permission to challenge punishments imposed for associating with prominent republican Colin Duffy while on temporary release.

Sean McConville was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the Northern Ireland Prison Service’s decision to deny him privileges and two further home leaves.

With an arguable case established, a full application will now be heard at the High Court in September.

McConville, a 27-year-old Lurgan man, is serving a 15-year sentence for possession of explosives discovered in the town in 2007.

He lost jail privileges after being seen with Duffy and two other men, Henry Fitzsimons and Brendan Conway, late last year.

Prison chiefs took action against him based on an assessment of those he had associated with on the pre-release programme.

All three men have spent time on the separated republican wing at HMP Maghaberry.

Lawyers for McConville claim he was unlawfully punished, and that conditions prohibiting contact with anyone linked to criminal activity or paramilitary organisations are too vague.

His privacy and family life entitlements under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights have been breached, they contended.

It was alleged that McConville had engaged with senior and prominent republican figures.

But according to his legal team there was a failure to make a distinction between dissident paramilitaries and members of a political organisation.

Counsel for the Prison Service countered that McConville knew what he had signed up to.

She insisted he could easily have avoided any association with the three men.

The judge hearing the challenge today confirmed that he was granting leave for McConville to apply for a judicial review.

Although it means an arguable case has been established, Mr Justice Stephens stressed that he has formed no ultimate view.

With McConville due for release in the autumn, a one-day hearing was listed for September 11.


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