Quinn given temporary release
Bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn, who was jailed for contempt in an asset stripping plot, has been granted temporary release for Christmas.
The one-time billionaire will be freed from the training unit in Mountjoy prison for three days over the festive break.
He will miss his granddaughter’s christening on Saturday.
His lawyer Kevin Winters, who represented the bankrupt pensioner as he was sentenced for contempt, confirmed that the decision to release Quinn was made this afternoon.
“Mr Quinn will be able to spend Christmas with his family at home, which is only right and fitting because it is no more or less than any other prisoner is entitled to at this time of year,” he said.
“It is a great sense of relief to his family that his application was approved.”
Mr Quinn (66), was sentenced to nine weeks in jail for not purging his contempt in the High Court.
The compassionate leave was agreed following prolonged talks between Attorney General Máire Whelan, the Department of Justice and the Irish Prison Service. Representations were also made on behalf of Mr Quinn to the governor of Mountjoy, Edward Whelan.
Mr Winters, a Belfast-based human rights solicitor, represented Mr Quinn at his sentence hearing last month when he first made an application for compassionate released.
But Miss Justice Elizabeth Dunne said any request would have to be made to the prison authorities, which received three official applications from the inmate’s legal team.
They had planned to take the issue back to the High Court because a prisoner convicted of contempt is not entitled to remission, unlike an inmate with a criminal conviction.
Mr Quinn will be freed on Christmas Eve from the training unit, where his son Sean junior also served three months for contempt after a judge ruled they attempted to put a multimillion-euro asset portfolio beyond the reach of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
The bank, rebranded from the bust Anglo Irish Bank, is pursuing the family for debts of €2.8 billion run up by Mr Quinn senior in failed share deals.
His nephew Peter Quinn, son of former GAA president Peter Quinn, was also sentenced to be jailed for the contempt this summer but remains on the run in Northern Ireland.
The judge found the three Quinn men consciously defied and misled the courts as they shifted family assets as far afield as Ukraine, Russia and Belize.
She accused the three of engaging in complex and costly steps to put the assets of Mr Quinn’s international property group beyond Anglo in a blatant, dishonest and deceitful manner.
Last week, Sean junior offered to sell the penthouse apartment he shares with wife Karen on the outskirts of Dublin’s Phoenix Park to demonstrate his willingness to purge contempt.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter is expected to announce over the coming days how many inmates will be given temporary release for Christmas.
Last year 160 prisoners were granted leave, equivalent to 3 per cent of the total prison population. This compared to 134 prisoners over the 2010 holiday period and 176 in 2009.