Shivers bailed from Maghaberry ‘death sentence’
Shivers bailed from Maghaberry ‘death sentence’

Brian Shivers, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, was granted bail on Friday after a judge heard prison authorities had failed to provide essential medical treatment for him.

Justice Coghlin ruled that Brian Shivers should be released because he could not be assured the proper medical safeguards were in place within Maghaberry jail.

Maghaberry governor Alan Longwell and his deputy, Steve Davis, were removed from their posts amid a continuing scandal over the treatment of prisoners inside the jail.

Despite Mr Shivers having been refused bail last month, his legal team returned to the High Court following serious failures in prison management of his condition which led to him being admitted to Belfast City Hospital with a worsening lung complaint on August 31.

Orlando Pownall QC, defending, pointed out that at various stages Shivers had been denied antibiotics and two other forms of medication.

Mr Shivers’s already reduced lung capacity was said to have dropped by a fifth to 40 per cent.

“If it goes down to 30 per cent he will require a lung transplant and the prognosis in those circumstances - he will forgive me for mentioning in his presence - is very poor,” the barrister said.

Mr Pownall said his client had lost around 8kg since being remanded in July.

He said it was “absurd” to suggest Shivers had failed to alert authorities to the absence of antibiotics which had “hitherto kept him alive”.

Ruling on the application Lord Justice Coghlin held that there had been “an administrative mistake, to put it at its lowest”. He required a hundred thousand pound cash surety in court along with the deeds to a house owned by Shivers’s mother before any release could take place.

Mr Shivers was also required to surrender any passports, report to police daily and observe a night-time curfew.

Efforts to have Mr Shivers released from Maghaberry Prison for hospital treatment were supported by Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four and Paddy Joe Hill of the Birmingham Six.

Veteran civil rights activist Bernadette McAliskey had also backed the campaign, calling for “compassion and reason”. She called for an early date for Mr Shivers’s trial on charges of involvement in a Real IRA gun attack on a British Army base in March.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness welcomed the decision.

“This man is clearly ill and he is obviously in need of specialist medical care.

“It is important that the criminal justice system is seen to respond in a compassionate and fair manner.”

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