Malaysian man jailed over Armagh pipe bomb launches freedom bid

William Wong was jailed for a minimum of five years
William Wong was jailed for a minimum of five years

A Malaysian-born man who has served his minimum five-year term for transporting a pipe bomb for a terrorist organisation has launched a legal challenge to being kept in prison.

William Wong, 27, is seeking to judicially review a decision that he should remain behind bars after failing to convince parole commissioners he is completely reformed and fully regrets his actions.

His barrister told the High Court on Friday that the panel who assessed his case applied the wrong test.

Wong, from Dalton Close in Armagh, was arrested in March 2010 after police chasing him saw a plastic bag being thrown into a garden at Niall’s Crescent in the city.

The bag was later found to contain a device with a fuse attached which an expert described as a lethal anti-personnel weapon with the potential to maim or kill.

Wong was wearing a surgical glove when searched by officers. Another two pairs of latex gloves were discovered in his pocket.

He eventually pleaded guilty to having a pipe bomb with intent to endanger life or cause injury to property.

An indeterminate sentence was imposed meaning it will be up to the Parole Commissioners to determine when he should be released after completing the minimum five-year tariff.

In March this year his application to be released was rejected because they were not satisfied his imprisonment was no longer necessary for public protection.

Opening her challenge to the decision, barrister Fiona Doherty QC argued that the panel erred in reaching its conclusion.

She claimed: “It applied the wrong test by indicating it required to be convinced that Mr Wong was ‘totally reformed’ and ‘fully regretted his actions’.”

But Donal Sayers, responding for the Commissioners, contended Wong’s explanation that he made a mistake, has since “wised up” and doesn’t want to go back to jail did not go far enough.

“That was not such as to permit them, and the statutory test for release, to be satisfied,” he told the court.

“They go somewhat further in saying he didn’t convince them he was a totally reformed person and regrets his actions in the past.”

Following submissions Mr Justice O’Hara reserved judgment on whether to grant leave to seek a judicial review.

Outside court Wong’s solicitor, Aiden Carlin, claimed the wrong sentence had been imposed.

“My client has suffered a series of injustices from the time of his sentence up to now,” he said.

“His sentence was manifestly excessive and he should be released immediately.”