An inmate at Mountjoy prison has commenced a High Court challenge against the decision to discipline him for setting fire to netting placed around the prison to prevent contraband from being thrown into the jail.
Jonathan Cummins (aged 25), who has served more than a year of a three and a half year sentence, has brought an action against both the Governor of Mountjoy Prison and the Irish Prison Service as a result of receiving a unfair punishment of six weeks loss of privileges for a breach of prison discipline that he says he had nothing to do with.
He wants the punishment imposed on him quashed.
Yesterday Michael Ó Higgins SC for Cummins said his client was one of three prisoners sharing a cell in Mountjoy where pieces of paper, which had been set on fire, thrown out of the cell's window in an attempt to burn a hole in netting surrounding the outside of the prison.
Prison staff, who smelt smoke, observed the papers being thrown from the cell around 11pm on the night of June 24 last.
Counsel said the netting is used to prevent persons outside throwing in contraband into the prison which is to be collected by inmates.
Counsel said Cummins told the authorities that he had nothing to do with the attempt to set fire to the netting. Cummins had been asleep at the time, counsel continued.
Counsel said that one of Cummins's cellmates had owned up to the action, but said the Prison authorities took the view that all three were responsible.
Counsel added that following a disciplinary hearing on June 26 last all three cellmates appeared to have been given the same punishment.
Cummins received a six-week punishment which includes loss of visits, phone calls, tuck-shop visits or from sending or receiving letters.
Counsel said Cummins indicated that he wished to appeal this, but was informed that his punishment would not be suspended pending the outcome of his appeal.
Counsel said that it was their case that the punishment imposed on Cummins is unfair, unreasonable, and disproportionate.
There has been a failure to assess Cummins alleged role in the incident and his right to appeal has been denied.
Leave to bring the application was granted on an ex-parte one side only basis today By Mr Justice Michael Peart.
The order is to operate as a stay on the punishment imposed on Cummins. The Judge also adjourned the matter to October.