Jailed brother of murdered NI man fails in bid to attend funeral
Compassionate release refused to Clifford McKeown for Malcolm McKeown’s service
During the hearing, it emerged that Clifford McKeown has turned down an offer to watch the funeral of his brother Malcolm from prison via a live link.
A convicted killer has failed in a High Court bid to secure temporary prison release for his murdered brother’s funeral.
Clifford McKeown issued emergency judicial review proceedings after he was denied permission to attend the service for Malcolm McKeown 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.
“I’m satisfied the governor has made a lawful decision, taking all relevant matters into consideration,” Mr Justice Horner said.
Malcolm McKeown was shot dead at a filling station in Waringstown, Co Down, last Monday.
The 54 year old, who ran a mid-Ulster crime gang for years and was suspected of involvement in drug dealing, arson and intimidation, had been due to appear at Lisburn court that day accused of aggravated burglary.
He is due to be buried following a church service in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
Clifford McKeown (60) is serving a minimum 24-year sentence at HMP Magilligan for the murder of Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick. who 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. “This is a man who hasn’t had the opportunity to grieve for his brother,” Sean Mullan said. “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.
Live link to prison
Mr Mullan insisted there is no suggestion his client would attempt any sort of 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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, an allegation of actual bodily harm against Malcolm McKeown was with drawn on Friday. He had been due to appear at Craigavon Magistrates Court accused of assaulting a woman on April 17th.