Derry republican Neil Hegarty to be released from prison

Neil Hegarty has been released from prison
Connla Young

A DERRY republican whose early released licence was revoked for allegedly refusing to comply with tagging requirements, has been released from Maghaberry Prison.

It is understood the decision by parole commissioners to release Neil Hegarty was taken yesterday.

Hegarty was detained by police at his home in the Creggan area in December around 36 hours after being released from Maghaberry where he had served five years of a 10 year sentence for possession of an armoured piercing EFP mortar in December 2012.

The remainder of the sentence was to be served on licence.

A condition of his release included having to wear an electronic tag.

During an unsuccessful legal challenge last week the High Court heard that the day after his release the PSNI informed a parole commissioner that Hegarty failed to admit security staff to his home to fit the tagging equipment.

It was also claimed that before being released from prison Hegarty told officials he would not be consenting to having the equipment fitted.

The parole commissioner concluded that he had displayed "wilful disengagement" with the licence process and recommended his licence be revoked.

Although he dismissed the challenge Mr Justice McCloskey identified issues in the police dossier provided to the commissioner.

"The gloss in this report relating to 'wilful disengagement' and 'affirmation' was opaque, unparticularised and, having regard to the totality of the evidence, misleading," he said.

Mr Hegarty's solicitor Ciarán Shiels last night said: “We can confirm that Neil Hegarty is to be released from Maghaberry and that we always contended that the information used to revoke his licence was inaccurate and in some respects totally misleading as was recognised by the High Court.

“He never should have been recalled to prison and we are currently advising Mr Hegarty as to forthcoming civil action for unlawful detention.”

Both the Department of Justice and the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland office declined to comment last night saying they could not discuss individual cases.

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