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Last Updated: Friday, 22 February 2008, 16:56 GMT
Judge raises remand law changes
Roy Green was shot dead in south Belfast
Roy Green was shot dead in south Belfast
The government should consider changing the law which dictates how time spent on remand is used in calculating sentences, a senior judge has said.

Mr Justice Weatherup also said such decisions would be better made by judges, rather than prison governors.

He was speaking after a man jailed over a loyalist feud murder lost a legal bid to get his sentence reduced.

Iain Rea, 37, was jailed for weapons offences linked to the UDA killing of Roy Green in south Belfast in 2003.

He was seeking a High Court judicial review of a refusal by the Governor at Maghaberry Prison to give credit for a previous period of 10 months in custody.

Rea was sentenced to eight years imprisonment last February after pleading guilty to possessing firearms, ammunition and explosives with intent to endanger life.

'Different charges'

His fingerprints were found at a lock-up garage storing a weapons cache which included the gun used to shoot Roy Green.

Rea was originally charged with possession of notepaper detailing types and quantities of ammunition and firearms based on a list they found at his home.

He was remanded in custody from June 2003 to March 2004 - the period he was claiming credit against the sentence imposed in 2007.

However, a prison governor refused to include the remand in his calculations, because of the different charges involved.

Rea's lawyers claimed this was unlawful and a breach of human rights.

The court heard how amendments to the legislation in England allowed credit for custody remands on related offences, with responsibility for calculating these falling to a judge rather than prison governor.

Mr Justice Weatherup said: "The advantage of the English system would be that such issues would be resolved by the sentencing judge."

He ruled that current laws in Northern Ireland meant Rea was not entitled to credit for the earlier 10 month remand.

However, he suggested possible changes: "Consideration might be given to the amendment of the legislation, as has occurred in England and Wales under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, so as to extend the matters in respect of which credit may be granted and to transfer the calculation of time to be served from the prison governor to the sentencing judge."

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