Former IRA man convicted of violent robbery on elderly couple loses battle over prison recall

A former IRA man convicted of a violent robbery on an elderly couple has lost a new legal battle over being recalled to prison.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 11:32 am
The Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast

Kieran Smyth was sent back to jail amid claims he had gained access to a rocket launcher, forged links with dissident republicans and targeted members of the security forces following his release.

Lawyers for the 61-year-old argued that the Secretary of State unlawfully revoked his licence prior to a recommendation by the Parole Commissioners.

But senior judges rejected his appeal against a previous unsuccessful judicial review challenge.

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Lord Justice Treacy ruled that the case is to be dismissed, with full reasons to be given at a later stage.

Smyth, with a previous address at Springfield Avenue in Belfast, is serving a 12-year sentence for his part in the armed raid on an elderly couple’s home in September 2013.

Intruders claiming to be loyalist paramilitaries entered the property in Ballynahinch, tied up a businessman and his wife - then aged 82 and 76 - and threatened to cut their son’s fingers off.

The masked men stole more than £5,000 in cash, a Rolex watch and a Mercedes car, ripping out phone lines before they escaped.

Along with co-defendant Eamonn O’Boyle, 46, Smyth was later arrested following a police chase in south Belfast.

Smyth, who took part in the blanket protests at the Long Kesh compound in the 1970s, is now aligned with the dissident political grouping Saoradh.

He had been freed on licence after serving half his sentence for the robbery behind bars.

But in March last year he was sent back to Maghaberry Prison for allegedly breaching the terms of his release.

His lawyers claimed the revocation of his licence was unlawfully made before endorsement from the Parole Commissioners.

They contended the move was predetermined from the outset, and to set an example of Smyth.

Under the legislation the Secretary of State can revoke a prisoner’s licence if deemed necessary to protect the public.

The court heard that on March 25 last year the Northern Ireland Office received intelligence alleging Smyth posed a risk to national security.

A case advanced for revoking his licence claimed that since his release he had:

:: Associated with senior New IRA figures and established an operational role for himself.

:: Targeted and attempted to collect intelligence on members of the security forces.

:: At one point possessed or had access to a military rocket launcher for use in terrorist attacks.

Earlier this year the High Court rejected allegations that the prison recall was predetermined or biased.

That decision was upheld following a new hearing at the Court of Appeal on Monday.

Expressing disappointment at the outcome, Smyth’s solicitor, Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law, said he would wait for the written judgment before considering any further potential appeal to the Supreme Court.