Darren Eadie and John Kennedy were convicted with two others for the murder of Kenneth Reilly. They were sentenced to life imprisonment with an additional five years for attempting to defeat the ends of justice. It was argued on their behalf that it was not appropriate for the Crown to ask for the imposition of a Serious Crime Prevention Order which would start at a minimum of 24 years after sentencing.
The trial judge sentenced Mr Eadie and Mr Kennedy to punishment part of 24 and 26 years respectively. On the 9th of March 2022 the Crown applied to SCPOs in respect of them both. It was argued on behalf of the Crown that this would protect the public by preventing, restricting or disrupting the appellants involvement in serious crime.
The judge imposed the orders for a period of 5 years. The order involved a number of requirements which would have to be undertaken. Counsel for the appellants submitted that the SCPOs were not in proportion with future risk, particularly due to the fact the exact length of the sentences was not known. It was argued that there is a presumption that if a person is released on parole they no longer pose a risk to the public. In light of that a SCPO would only be required where the Parole Board had not properly exercised its functions.
Lord Carloway stated: “The trial judge, in predicting whether any future risk was real, rather than a possibility, was certainly entitled to take into account, as an extremely important factor, that this was a cold blooded assassination. Nevertheless, and accepting that some convicted criminals may be beyond redemption, a second important, but absent, factor is the progress toward rehabilitation, which one or both of the appellants might make, over the quarter century during which they will remain incarcerated.”
He concluded: “Having regard to the substantial length of time which will elapse before their possible release, and to the fact that the chief constable will be at liberty to apply for an order before any such release, the court does not regard it as a proportionate response to the prospective risk, that an SCPO be made at this stage.”
Therefore, the appeal was allowed.