Convicted Republican killer Thomas McWilliams secures challenge to supervision conditions of his licensed release
A convicted Republican killer has been granted legal permission to challenge revised conditions for monitoring his licensed release.
Homas McWilliams has obtained leave from the High Court to seek judicial review of the obligation to engage under Multi-Agency Review Agreements (MARA).
His lawyers say it is illegal and intrusive surveillance of âpolitically motivatedâ ex-prisoners during the Troubles.
The 55-year-old, from the Ardoyne area in north Belfast, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a Protestant grocer in March 1993.
Norman Truesdale was shot dead in his store on Oldpark Road, with the IRA alleging at the time that he had been a loyalist paramilitary.
Originally released in 2000 under the Good Friday Agreement, McWilliams was returned to prison for removing a gun from the riots in Belfast.
The semi-automatic weapon had been used to shoot at agents in Ardoyne in July 2012.
McWilliams was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but was again released on a life license in 2018.
Changes to its supervision conditions introduced earlier this year involve active supervision by a MARA officer.
McWilliams’ legal team argued that changing the conditions initially recommended by parole boards violated his privacy rights.
Proceedings against the Department of Justice have also argued that the amendment violates the 2001 Life Sentences (NI) Ordinance.
It has been claimed that previous convictions for crimes such as the 1993 murder are not valid criteria for classifying terrorist risk offenders in 2021.
The type of monitoring required by the amended license goes against a pattern established by the Good Friday Agreement, in the case of McWilliams.
His lawyer, Michael Brentnall, has confirmed he has been granted leave to seek judicial review, with a full hearing scheduled for March next year.
McWilliams also sought an interim injunction against being required to appear with a MARA supervisor.
But the ministry’s senior lawyer assured that no conclusions would be drawn from his level of engagement in meetings pending the outcome of the case.
Outside of court, Mr Brentnall insisted the surveillance requirements cannot be justified.
He said: “Our client and many other politically motivated former prisoners will be subject to strict and intrusive surveillance arrangements which appear to be illegal, irrational and disproportionate to their stated purpose.”