Irish prisoner in British jail challenges transfer refusal

Man was sentenced to 22 years for manslaughter

An Irishman sentenced to 22 years in Britain for the manslaughter of a man in 2016 has brought a High Court challenge over a refusal to allow him to be transferred to serve the remainder of his sentence here.

Martin Saunders (40), who lived in Huntington, Cambridgeshire, England, admitted the manslaughter of a man in Cambridge in June 2015. The attack was part of a personal feud between him and the victim, Jeff Henry (39), the Old Bailey was told in 2016. Along with a friend, they beat Mr Henry using golf clubs. He died five days later in hospital.

Saunders, originally from Mallow in Co Cork, was given 17 years of an extended indeterminate sentence and another five years on extended sentence for public protection.

Last August, the Minister for Justice and Equality refused his request to be transferred from HMP Whitemoor, England.


The Minister said this was because the sentence imposed by the UK court was not compatible with Irish law. It was also stated that a Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, under which Saunders claims he has a right to be transferred, does not confer an obligation on any state to comply with a transfer request.

Moving his application to judicially review that decision on Monday, his counsel Michael Lynn said the incompatibility ground cited by the Minister is not a sound reason.

There is provision in legislation here governing sentenced persons being transferred to allow the High Court to adapt a sentence from another jurisdiction if it is not compatible. While extended indeterminate sentencing was not a concept known to Irish law, it would be quite easy to adapt, counsel said.

In an affidavit, his solicitor Gavin Booth said his client’s parents are caring for his son in Ireland.

In his action against the Minister, the Irish Prison Service and the State, he seeks orders and declarations including quashing the decision to refuse his transfer request and that his constitutional rights have been breached.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan, following a one-side only represented application, granted leave to bring proceedings and said the matter can return in January.