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Charlotte Mulhall takes court action over move to Limerick Prison

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Charlotte Mulhall, who has served 14 years of a life sentence for murder of her mother’s boyfriend, has brought a High Court challenge over being moved to Limerick Prison from the Dóchas Centre woman’s prison in Dublin.

Mulhall was transferred to Limerick on Christmas Eve 2018, where she has trusted prisoner status, two days after she was allegedly seen by a prison officer sitting on a woman prison officer while performing a beauty treatment.

Mulhall disputes that version of events and says she has never been given the opportunity to address the prison authorities about what she says actually occurred.

She claims, as a result of the move, her Dublin-based family, for a variety of reasons, including her mother being ill, have not visited her.

The lack of visits has caused “great stress and upset to me and my family, she said.

She said she is “lonely and sad” due to “the lack of visits from my family”.

“I miss my dog who was part of a canine programme I was undertaking prior to my transfer,” she also said.

She has brought proceedings against the Irish Prison Service, the Governor of Limerick Prison, the Minister for Justice & Equality, Ireland and the Attorney General seeking to be returned to the Dóchas Centre.

Represented by Conor Power SC, with Cian Kelly, she wants various orders including one directing the respondents to return her to Dublin.

Mr Power said, despite being moved to Limerick just before Christmas 2018, Mulhall was not fully sure why she had been transferred there, where she enjoys enhanced or trusted prisoner status.

It was not until June 2020, following a Freedom of Information request, she found out in writing why she had been transferred.

In the information obtained, the prison service said she had been found “in a very compromising position with a prison officer” and that the relation between Mulhall and that officer “has been the focus of media attention previously”.

The information also stated Mulhall was “involved in a number of high-profile liaisons while in Dóchas,” which “received significant media coverage including adverse comment” and she should be transferred to Limerick “until further notice”.

Mulhall disputes the information and said, had she “been afforded the opportunity to address the situation which I was not, I would have told the governor exactly what happened and this transfer could have been avoided”.

Counsel said, if his client was moved “as a punishment”, she was entitled to a hearing under prison disciplinary regulations but no such hearing had taken place.

If the move was not a punishment, then the prison authorities had not taken her rights and those of her family into account, he said.

This was an action his client is entitled to take and not an attempt to “micromanage” prison regimes, counsel added.

When the application for permission to bring the challenge came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday, he noted there is a large volume of case law about how courts should not micromanage prisons and said the application for leave should be heard on notice to the respondents.

The matter was adjourned to next month.

Charlotte, and her sister Linda Mulhall, were convicted in 2006 of the March 2005 killing of their mother’s boyfriend, Farah Swaleh Noor.

The dismembered body of Noor, who had a history of being extremely violent towards women, was found dumped in the Royal Canal, near Croke Park, some days afterwards.

Charlotte, aged 21 at the time of the killing, was found guilty of murder. Linda was found guilty of manslaughter and given a 15-year sentence. She was released in 2018.

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