Republican jailed for murder of police officer wins right to challenge release arrangements

Séamus Kearney issued High Court proceedings after failing to secure home leave for St Valentine’s weekend

A veteran republican, jailed for murdering a part-time police officer who was visiting his wife and newborn son, has won the legal right to challenge his temporary release arrangements.

Séamus Kearney issued High Court proceedings in Belfast after failing to secure home leave to spend a St Valentine's weekend with his partner.

He also wanted the judge to quash a Prison Service decision to impose an initial eight- hour limit on his periods outside jail.

The Derry man's lawyers said that Kearney wants a 48-hour release next week to celebrate St Patrick's Day and to see the GAA club he supports take part in the All-Ireland final.


Granting leave to seek a judicial review, Mr Justice Treacy fixed the case for a full hearing on Friday.

Kearney (58), of Maghera, received a minimum 20- year prison sentence in December 2013 for murdering John Proctor in September 1981.

The victim, a 25-year-old RUC Reserve Constable, was shot dead by the IRA minutes after going to see his wife and child at the Mid Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt, Co Derry.

Kearney had denied murder and possessing an Armalite AR15 rifle.

However, a judge found him guilty after hearing key evidence that his DNA profile was on a cigarette butt found among spent bullet casings at the scene.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Kearney is expected to serve just two years of his sentence behind bars.

Following submissions Mr Justice Treacy decided the case has enough merit to progress to a full hearing on Friday.