Local man convicted in the North launches legal bid to complete his sentence at home

Local man convicted in the North launches legal bid to complete his sentence at home

A local man who last year was convicted of having bomb making equipment at the south Armagh home which he shared with his girlfriend in December 2013 has launched a legal bid to complete his sentence at home.

Keith McConnan, a former Dundalk Grammar School student from Kilcurry, was given a five-year sentence for being caught with a Timer Power Unit last June but spent just a week in prison because of the time he had already served on remand. The remaining half of his sentence is under supervised licence but he was denied permission to finish his period on licence across the border.

Together with Gerard McManus, who was convicted of gun offences linked to a foiled attack on a trainee policeman’s home in a separate incident, the pair are challenging the stance of the Northern Ireland Probation Board and Department of Justice, claiming it goes against the aim of rehabilitating offenders.

McConnan, 21, wants to be able to complete his period on licence while living with his parents in Kilcurry.

His legal team said he was regarded as a model prisoner while detained.

According to a report in The Newsletter, they argued he is more likely to resettle safely in the community while staying with them than any period spent in hostel or other temporary accommodation in Northern Ireland.

Lawyers for both men insisted in court that the relevant rules do not specifically require a prisoner to reside at an address within the UK.

It was contended that those released in England and Wales under similar legislation are permitted to live outside the jurisdiction.

Barry MacDonald QC said: “The legislative framework is the same here as in England and Wales, but the interpretation is completely different.”

Mr Justice Colton was also told that preventing a prisoner returning to their family home is contrary to the intention to rehabilitate.

Following submissions the judge reserved his decision on the judicial review challenge.

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