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Prisoner’s complaint concerning medical treatment did not affect the lawfulness of his detention

By: Mark Tottenham BL

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Supreme Court dismisses appeal from High Court, and affirms order refusing to release a prisoner who complained of inadequate medical treatment, on the grounds that the prisoner had been lawfully detained pursuant to a warrant in execution of a sentence imposed by a court of law following conviction of an offence, and that a complaint concerning medical treatment could not possibly be a good ground for ordering his release under the provisions of the Constitution.

O'Higgins CJ: Sentence of two years imprisonment for receiving stolen goods - claim of not receiving adequate medical attention - order under Article 40 of the Constitution to inquire into the legality of his detention - right to bodily integrity - whether production of warrant alone sufficed - affidavit showing that prisoner was receiving adequate medical attention - order discharged in High Court - appeal - lawful sentence - deprivation of liberty in accordance with law - ss. 12 and 13 of the General Prisons (Ireland) Act, 1877 - Prison Rules - contrast with deprivation of liberty under Emergency Powers Bill 1976 - habeas corpus -

"The stipulation in Article 40, s. 4, sub-s. 1, of the Constitution that a citizen may not be deprived of his liberty save "in accordance with law" does not mean that a convicted person must be released on habeas corpus merely because some defect or illegality attaches to his detention. The phrase means that there must be such a default of fundamental requirements that the detention may be said to be wanting in due process of law."

"The prosecutor is being detained under a valid warrant in execution of a sentence imposed by the Central Criminal Court. That is sufficient to dispose of his application to the High Court. His complaint that he is not being given the medical treatment of his choice for a back-ache could not possibly be a good ground for ordering his release, particularly when his complaint is not supported by any medical opinion."

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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