Sex offender challenges prison disciplinary sanction over comments he posted on his website

By Ann O'Loughlin

Convicted sex offender and legal academic Brian Doolan has launched a High Court challenge over being disciplined by the Arbour Hill Prison authorities for comments posted on his website crticising the victim's support group 'One in Four'.

Doolan who taught law at the Dublin Institute of Technology was convicted and jailed for 12 years, with two suspended, in 2016.

At his trial he had pleaded not guilty to 44 charges of sexual abuse, including 11 counts of rape, of a male.

Doolan was convicted on 42 of the charges and is currently serving his sentence at Arbour Hill.

Doolan has challenged a finding by the Prison Governor, following a disciplinary hearing held on September 26 last, that he breached the prison rules by engaging in misconduct within the prison.

The Governor found that Doolan had breached the prison rules by instructing his son via the prison's telecommunications system to post comments and content to the website www.briandoolan.com

The comments were critical of both 'One in Four' and of the complainant who gave evidence at Doolan's criminal trial.

After finding that Doolan had breached the rules, the Govenor ruled he could not receive phone calls nor have any visitors for a period of 30 days.

At the High Court today, Doolan's counsel Feichin McDonagh SC said the claims against Doolan could not be deemed to be disruptive to the good order and running of the prison.

Counsel said the matters of concern to the Governor were not covered by the prison rules and therefore the the governor could not make any findings on them.

His client was unhappy with the disciplinary for several reasons, counsel said, including that he was not given a transcript of the phone calls at the centre of the allegations until after the hearing, counsel said, and that no reasons were given by the governor as to why he was prohibited from receiving visitors.

Doolan also says the appeal procedure provided for in the prison rules breaches his rights, because he can only appeal the sanction imposed to the Minister, who he says cannot overturn the finding of guilt.

Doolan's proceedings are against the Prison Governor, the Minister for Justice & Equality, Ireland and the Attorney General seeking permission to quash the finding of guilty and the punishment imposed on him.

He also seeks various declarations, including that the failure to provide him with an appeal against the findings against him by the Governor amounts to a breach of his constitutional rights and rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

He further sought a declaration that the disciplinary hearing provided for by the Governor also involves a breach of his constitutional rights and rights under the ECHR,

Permission to bring the action was granted on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan today. The case will come back before the court in February.


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