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'extreme regime' Man jailed for 'brutal' assault on girlfriend takes court action over solitary confinement

Lee Goodchild has brought High Court proceedings against prison authorities over a 14 day period of detention following a Covid outbreak


Lee Goodchild

Lee Goodchild

Lee Goodchild

A man jailed for an “odious and gut wrenching” assault on his former girlfriend in her Longford home almost two years ago has brought High Court proceedings against prison authorities over a 14 day period of detention that left him in “almost solitary confinement” following an outbreak of Covid-19. 

Lee Goodchild, 2 Auburn Village, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison last June as a result of an incident at Ardnacassa Avenue, Longford on May 14, 2020.

Goodchild tabled ex parte  judicial review proceedings on Monday  against the governor of Castlerea Prison, Justice Minister Helen McEntee and the Attorney General.

Michael O'Higgins SC, Baxter Mimnagh Solicitors, said the basis for the application centred on claims Goodchild's detention was a breach of the 30-year-old's constitutional and human rights.

“The applicant was during a 14 day period in February subjected to a regime of almost solitary confinement but was in fact close confinement because there was another man in  the cell and this was because he was a close contact of a person who had Covid-19,” he said.

“During that period he was deprived of social contact other than the man in his cell.”

He said there was not just an “inconsistency” but a  “patchiness” to Goodchild's detention at a time when prisoners on a landing below his client were permitted to exercise and afforded showering facilities.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan said it was well established the court could not involve itself in the management of prison regimes, a claim Mr O'Higgins said fell outside of that practice.

“This is different as this is systemic,” he said.

“This appears to be a situation where a particular regime is being applied admittedly and properly to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic but in circumstances where the restrictions cut across constitutional rights.

Mr O'Higgins argued prison authorities had imposed a “remarkably extreme regime” on his client at a time when he had tested negative for Covid-19 twice.

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In a sworn affidavit to the court solicitor for Goodchild, Fiona Baxter said her client was subjected to physical and sensory deprivation, illustrated by how he had been left to wash his clothes for the two week period in a bucket inside his cell.

Mr Justice Meenan adjourned the application for leave until May 17 to allow the Irish Prison Service to be put on notice .

Details of Goodchild's judicial review application comes barely nine months after he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Longford Circuit Court Judge Keenan Johnson suspended the final year of that sentence for what he termed as a “vicious” and “brutal” assault on his ex partner.

“This was an odious and gut-wrenching attack,” he said.

The female victim told of how Goodchild confronted her while the pair consumed alcohol in the sitting room of her Longford home.

“He grabbed me by the throat and pushed me down on the couch

“He had his two knees pinning me to the bed and I started screaming and crying.

“That’s when he choked me. He was mocking me because I was crying.

“He grabbed me by the hair on the two sides of my head and leaned down and grabbed my lip with his teeth. It was like being attacked by a dog.

"I thought that was it. I thought I wasn’t going to get out of this. He put his hand around my neck and he choked me until I passed out.”

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