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17 Aug 2022

One of Portlaoise Prison's most famous inmates sacks his legal team

'The Border Fox' is in the news again

Portlaoise Prison

Portlaoise Prison has housed many paramalitaries down the years.

Former INLA man Dessie O'Hare, who was known as "The Border Fox", has dismissed his lawyers ahead of an appeal against the severity of his seven-year sentence for evicting a family from their home, which was due to take place next week.

O'Hare of Slate Rock Road, Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh was last year jailed by the Special Criminal Court for seven years for falsely imprisoning the family in their home and for leading a "disturbingly violent" attack on another man. 

The sentence appeal was due to be heard on Monday, however, the former terrorist has dispensed with his legal team and has sought the services of a new team of lawyers. The Court of Appeal has now fixed January 22 as the new hearing date for O'Hare's appeal. 

The 63-year-old admitted to assaulting John Roche, causing him harm, at The Towers, Garter Lane, Saggart, County Dublin on June 9, 2015. He also pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning Martin Byrne at Rathcoole and Saggart on the same date. The non-jury court was asked to take two counts of falsely imprisoning Mr Byrne’s wife and son into consideration.

O'Hare was jailed for three years for assaulting Mr Roche and ten years with three suspended for the rest of his life for falsely imprisoning Mr Byrne. The sentences are running concurrently.

In a brief remote hearing before the Court of Appeal this morning (FRIDAY), Patrick Jackson BL with Dominic McGinn SC said O'Hare had contacted Ferry Solicitors to come on record. 

Defence counsel Mark Lynam BL with Sean Guerin SC said he was not opposing the application. 

President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, said the court would permit the change of solicitor.

Mr Jackson said he and Mr McGinn were not in a position to deal with the case on Monday as O'Hare had only made contact with Ferry Solicitors this week.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shane Costelloe SC, said he had "very firm instructions" for the appeal to go ahead next week and was anxious to keep the date for the hearing on Monday. 

In reply, Mr Justice Birmingham said he could not see how the DPP was prejudiced by a new solicitor coming on record. "The likelihood is that even if Mr O'Hare did succeed, he would end up with a very significant sentence so I don't see the enormous urgency," said the judge. 

Mr Justice Birmingham fixed January 22 as the new date for the appeal hearing saying: "People will have to be ready to proceed on that date."

Mr Costelloe noted that the three-judge court should not need more time than the one hour already assigned for the case.

The judge asked Mr Costelloe if the court would be asked to view CCTV footage on the day. "We are responding to the appeal against the severity of the sentence so it's really a matter whether Mr Jackson and Mr McGinn will be applying for the footage to be shown. The ground of appeal was to do with the lack of parity between O'Hare and Declan Duffy," replied Mr Costelloe.

Former Republican paramilitary Declan "Whacker"  Duffy was sentenced by the Special Criminal Court to six years imprisonment in 2018 after pleading guilty to assaulting John Roche,  causing him harm, at The Towers, Garter Lane,  Saggart, County Dublin on  June 9, 2015. He also admitted falsely imprisoning Martin Byrne at Rathcoole/Saggart on the same date.

Passing sentence last year, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that the violent side of O'Hare's personality was not in remission and that his threat to society had "not completely abated". The judge stressed that O'Hare was "an organiser and high-level participant" in the incident and said that the non-jury court did not accept that the offending was "isolated" even though he had applied himself positively to some aspects of his life in the last 13 years. 

In 1988, O'Hare was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment for falsely imprisoning and assaulting Dublin dentist Dr John O’Grady, causing him grievous bodily harm, but was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 2006.

The defendant also has convictions for firearm offences as well as assaulting a garda.

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