New Appeal: Can delay in arresting an absconded prisoner render his detention unlawful?

In this determination, Finnegan v Superintendent of Tallaght Garda Station & Anor, the Supreme Court granted Finnegan leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal on the quetion:

What are “the circumstances, if any, in which delay on the part of An Garda Síochána in arresting an absconding prisoner can render his arrest and subsequent detention unlawful”?



In 2008 Finnegan was sentenced to sixteen months in prison for being a passenger in a stolen car. In 2009 he absconded from Shelton Abbey Open Centre. Finnegan returned to his family home in Tallaght. Between 2009 and 2014, he collected social welfare in Tallaght. In 2o11, he moved in with his partner, and they now have two children.

In 2014, Gardai from Tallaght Garda Station arrested Finnegan to serve the remainder of his sentence. The High Court granted Finnegan an order that his arrest and detention was not in accordance with law. The Court of Appeal overturned that decision.


Supreme Court

Finnegan applied to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal. Granting leave, the Court determined that it is a matter of general public importance whether delay in arresting an absconded prisoner can render his subsequent detention unlawful. The Court determined that the constitutional threshold of “the interest of justice” was not met on the question of whether his detention would cause such serious disruption to family life so as to be unlawful.

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