The Minister for Justice and Equality v Laurence Kelly aka Gavin Nolan

In 2005, in Harrow Crown Court, Kelly pleaded guilty to attempted rape and assault causing actual bodily harm. Under sentencing policy introduced in the UK earlier that year, the judge ordered his imprisonment under a two part sentence. That consisted of an initial minimum period of two and a half years (tariff period) and, after that, an additional indefinite sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP). Under an IPP sentence the probationary services could only release the prisoner when it was sure that he presented no further risk to the public.

In May 2012, the UK Parliament passed a Bill revoking the power of their courts to make IPP sentences. But, it seems, prisoners already sentenced under IPPs continued to be subject to those terms. In September 2012, the ECtHR determined that the UK were in breach of Art. 5.1 of the ECHR in arbitrarily detaining prisoners past their tariff sentence.

After serving five and a half years, while on temporary release, Kelly absconded. In October 2011, Irish authorities arrested Kelly under a European Arrest Warrant. In March 2012, the High Court refused to order his surrender to the UK authorities. The Minister appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. The question certified by the High Court was:

Is the sentence which the respondent is sought to serve so contrary to the scheme and order envisaged by the Constitution that surrender must be refused by the Court?

Decision of the Court

The Court determined that it was not necessary to conduct an analysis of the constitutionality of surrendering Kelly to serve an indefinite sentence. As the ECtHR had declared that such sentences breached the ECHR, it would be contrary to the State’s obligations under the ECHR to surrender Kelly and dismissed the Minister’s appeal.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: