21 April 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

A 47-year-old Castleblayney man who has served 25 years of a 40-year sentence for the kiling of a Garda Sergeant during an armed robbery has lost a High Court bid to be considered for remission.
Noel Callan, Cullaville, who is serving the sentence for the murder of Garda Sergeant Patrick Morrisey in 1985, had sought to be granted eligibility for remission, but his application was refused by Mr Justice Michael Hanna.
Callan had claimed that he had been unlawfully deprived of the right to remission, which could reduce his 40-year sentence by up to one-third. He made the case that other persons who had been convicted of the murder of Gardai after the passage of the Criminal Justice Act in 1990 could now seek remission.
But Mr Justice Hanna ruled that the applicant did not have eligibility for remission under the 1990 Act, or the Criminal Justice Act of 1951. He also rejected the claim that Callan had been treated unequally before the law in relation to remission entitlements.
The Judge said that while some might persuasively invoke fairness and compassion in aid of Callan’s plight, others might understandably take the view, given the appalling nature of this crime inflicted on a courageous servant of the State, that he had already received his full quotient of mercy. But the court could not call upon such conflicting statements to try to shoehorn the appliicant into or out of a legal framework that simply did not fit.
The Judge said that in his opinion, the potential resolution of this matter, if any there be, lay outside the walls of the courts.
Noting Callan’s original death sentence was commuted by then President Patrick Hillery in 1986 to one of 40 years penal servitude, the judge said the power to commute did not fit in with the characteristics of the administration of justice and constitutes an executive, rather than judicial, administration of justice.
 Commuting of the sentence constituted an exercise in clemency by the President and did not attract the protection of constitutional justice, he ruled.
 Callan was aged 22 when convicted by the non-jury Special Criminal Court in December 1985 of the capital murder of Sergeant Patrick Morrissey (49) at Rathbrist, Tallanstown, on June 27th 1985 following an armed robbery the same day at Ardee Labour Exchange.
 Sgt Morrissey was initially wounded by Callan’s co-accused Michael McHugh, of Clonalig, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, who then went back and “executed” him, Deirdre Murphy SC, for Callan, said. Ms Murphy said her client accepted he was part of a common design in relation to a robbery but was not in the vicinity when Sgt Morrissey was shot.
 Both Callan and McHugh were sentenced to death for murder but their sentences were commuted by the President to 40 years penal servitude. They also received 12 year sentences for the robbery.

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