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Man (64) who committed murder aged 16 returned to UK to serve remainder of sentence

Kenyon came to Ireland in 2003 while serving his sentence for the murder of an elderly shopkeeper who he beat to death with a poker.

Image: Rollingnews.ie

A HIGH COURT judge has surrendered for extradition a man who absconded to Ireland after spending 31 years in prison for a murder he committed when he was a child.

Roy Norman Kenyon came to Ireland in 2003 while serving his sentence for the murder of Margaret Potts, an elderly shopkeeper, whom he beat to death with a poker in 1971.

Having lived in Ireland under an alias for 15 years, the 64-year-old will now be returned to the UK to serve the remainder of his sentence. The court has previously heard that Kenyon lived in Tullamore under the alias Alan McPherson, before being arrested in the village of Eyeries, Co Cork on 2 May 2018. 

Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly today rejected Kenyon’s points of objection and made an order to surrender him to the UK authorities within 25 days.

Outlining the facts of the original trial, Ronan Kennedy BL for the State told the court earlier this year that Kenyon was 16 years old and had been drinking alcohol on the night of his crime.

He left the pub to purchase more alcohol from Potts, got into an argument with her and hit her two times in the head with a poker while she sat in an armchair.

Opposing the application for his surrender to the UK last month Sean Guerin SC said his client is not a risk to society.  The barrister said his client is now an adult but was sentenced as a child and was considered to be at greater risk to society than the average prisoner because he had spent a longer time in custody.

The lawyer said this logic was “fallacious” and unsupported by the evidence placed before the court. 

‘Back in the twilight zone’ 

Counsel said Kenyon has been at liberty for a long period of time and did not appear to have exhibited a risk to the public. 

Guerin pointed out that his client was eligible for release in the 1980s when he completed the punitive portion of his sentence. However, he will now serve an “indeterminate” sentence if he is surrendered to the UK.

There is no evidence in terms of his behaviour to suggest that he poses an “unacceptable risk” to the public, he added.

Guerin also submitted that there is no commitment from the UK authorities that Kenyon’s case will be reviewed at any time before 2021. He said that his client is likely to find himself “back in the twilight zone” of having his life sentence reviewed every two years and further conditions being imposed. 

Justice Donnelly said it is not “egregious” for a person sentenced to life as a child for murder to be held in prison and pointed out that his continued detention in the UK was a result of parole hearings which assessed the risk to the public of granting his freedom.

On surrendering him, she said, he will be entitled to seek release and his case will be reviewed within two years.

This, she said, complies with his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. She added:

It cannot be egregious as a matter of law to require a person who has absconded while serving a life sentence to return to the issuing state where they will have the full panoply of the European Convention on Human Rights available to them.

Justice Donnelly further noted that this was not Kenyon’s first time absconding from custody after being placed in open prisons. On previous occasions he was caught trying to leave the country and when returned to prison he was put “at the bottom of the penal ladder”.

This behaviour, she said, shows he does not want to be monitored and raises concern about his risk to the public. Justice Donnelly said it has not been established that he is no longer a risk or danger to the public.

She also noted that there was no “professional evidence” of his rehabilitation and said the Court does not accept his claim that he forgot about a previous time when he absconded from custody for some months. She also rejected his claim that he had not engaged in the use of controlled drugs.

The Court further rejected a claim that Brexit posed a risk that he would no longer be able to rely on the rights and entitlements guaranteed by EU law.

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Eoin Reynolds

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