Michael J Staines & Company had appeared in the High Court in an application for Judicial Review on 20th October 2016. Mr. F had been arrested and brought to Wheatfield prison four and half years after leaving Shelton Abbey where he had completed four months of a sixteen month sentence. We argued that the length of time it took the Gardaí to arrest Mr. F was an excessive delay and contrary to fair procedures. Mr. F had been living in the same house he had been living in prior to his incarceration, had collected Social Welfare in his local office and had applied for a driving licence for himself and passport for his daughter in his local Garda Station. Judgment was delivered on 7th November 2016 and the High Court ruled Mr F should not be returned to custody. In the intevening period, the State appealed the matter to the Court of Appeal which overturned the decision of the High Court.
The matter was then appealed to the Supreme Court. On 15 May 2019, the Supreme Court (O’Donnell J) held that there was a point at which culpable and inexcusable delay in executing a committal warrant, normally coupled with other factors, may mean that the arrest and detention of even an absconding prisoner can become unlawful. O’Donnell J also held that this point had arrived when it could be said clearly that the arrest and detention was no longer the performance of the administration of justice, but rather had become so arbitrary and oppressive to the individual that it could not be permitted. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal and our client, Mr F was not returned to custody.
Full judgment available here