Northern Ireland news

Convicted killer Clifford McKeown told he will not be released for funeral of his murdered brother Malcolm

Malcolm McKeown was shot dead at a filling station in Waringstown

A SECTARIAN killer has failed in a High Court bid to secure temporary prison release for his murdered brother Malcolm McKeown's funeral.

Clifford McKeown issued emergency judicial review proceedings after he was denied permission to attend the service on Saturday.

But a judge backed the decision taken to refuse compassionate release, based on his record and the risk to the safety of any prison staff who would have been escorting him.

Mr Justice Horner said: "I'm satisfied the governor has made a lawful decision, taking all relevant matters into consideration."

Malcolm McKeown (54) was gunned down at a filling station in Waringstown, Co Down last Monday.

He is due to be buried following a church service in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

His 60-year-old brother Clifford is serving a minimum 24-year sentence at Magilligan Prison for the murder of Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick.

Mr McGoldrick was shot dead by the Loyalist Volunteer Force near Lurgan in July 1996, at the height of the Drumcree marching dispute.

Counsel for Clifford McKeown claimed the decision to turn down his request for temporary release was flawed.

Sean Mullan also argued: "This is a man who hasn't had the opportunity to grieve for his brother.

"It's not a case where his brother had been ill and he visited him; his brother was murdered on Monday night."

The judge pointed out, however, that Malcolm McKeown's killing came after his release on bail on an aggravated burglary charge.

"If you murder someone it gives rise to all sorts of scores that have to be settled," he said.

Mr Mullan insisted there is no suggestion his client would attempt any sort or reprisal.

During the hearing it also emerged that Clifford McKeown has turned down an offer to watch the funeral from prison via a live link.

"The applicant doesn't feel it would be appropriate to engage in that because he wouldn't be there with his family," Mr Mullan said.

His reasons failed to impress the judge.

"He's paying his respects to the deceased, not to his family," Mr Justice Horner stressed.

Dismissing McKeown's legal challenge, he added: "Although I have every sympathy for him in losing his brother, I would urge him strongly to reconsider following the service on the live link."

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