Killer challenges ‘denial of education’ in prison

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A man jailed for shooting dead his wife’s former lover has launched legal action over an alleged denial of education behind bars.

Louis Maguire is challenging the Northern Ireland Prison Service amid claims that he has been excluded from the classroom for 19 months.

The High Court heard that the dispute includes allegations of being kept out of a ceramics course.

Maguire, 50, is serving a minimum 24-year sentence for the murder of David “Digger” Barnes in Belfast in March 2003.

Gunmen broke into a flat at Brookvale Avenue and shot Mr Barnes, 39, as he lay in bed.

Maguire, formerly of Whinpark Road in Newtownards, Co Down, was said to have carried out the killing while on weekend leave from serving a prison sentence for robbery.

In 2006 he was jailed for the murder and a separate arson attack on the home of a relative of Mr Barnes.

He is now seeking to judicially review the Prison Service for allegedly suspending him from educational courses.

Papers lodged by Maguire confirm he is seeking to quash a decision refusing to let him return to the classroom unless he signs an “unwarranted” agreement.

It claims that in any event the authorities are still refusing readmission to the ceramics class.

Maguire’s lawyers contend that the situation breaches his human rights.

They argue that the decision is irrational, disproportionate and procedurally improper.

The situation is understood to relate to an alleged complaint about Maguire’s behaviour within HMP Maghaberry.

In court barrister Andrew Moriarty said “positive indications” that his client would be allowed to return to classes have not yet been confirmed.

Following exchanges Mr Justice Colton adjourned the case until later this month.