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Char-ing costs State to pay most of ‘Scissor Sister’ Charlotte Mulhall’s €100,000 legal bill

The convicted murderer (39) sued the Prison Service after visits from her son ceased when she was transferred to another jail

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'Scissor Sisters' Charlotte and Linda Mulhall were convicted of the killing and dismemberment of Farah Noor in Ballybough, Dublin on March 20, 2005

'Scissor Sisters' Charlotte and Linda Mulhall were convicted of the killing and dismemberment of Farah Noor in Ballybough, Dublin on March 20, 2005

'Scissor Sisters' Charlotte and Linda Mulhall were convicted of the killing and dismemberment of Farah Noor in Ballybough, Dublin on March 20, 2005

Convicted murderer Charlotte Mulhall will have most of her legal costs paid by the State despite dropping her claim for damages over allegedly being denied visits with her son.

Mulhall (39), one of the so-called ‘Scissor Sisters’ sued the Prison Service claiming her family rights were breached when visits with her son ceased after her transfer from the Dóchas Centre in Dublin to Limerick Prison over three years ago.

But during the hearing of the case on Tuesday, it emerged the visits resumed last October and are set to continue.

Her counsel subsequently told the court Mulhall was dropping the damages claim as continuing with it would not be a fruitful use of the court’s time.

While the mother of one’s costs have yet to be quantified, a legal source suggested they would be in the region of €100,000.

In a ruling today, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said he was satisfied, having regard for all circumstances, that she was entitled to some of her costs.

He awarded Mulhall 50pc of her costs for a judicial review leave application and 66pc of her costs from the full hearing of the case.

Mr Justice Barr said that even though Mulhall ended up dropping her claim, she had been successful “insofar as her proceedings have secured for her a change from the visitation regime that pertained at the end of 2019”.

The judge said she had “secured a valuable entitlement, being the opportunity to have face-to-face visits with her son at a neutral venue”.

He said that if the Prison Service had advised her solicitor last September that it intended to reintroduce the visits and invited Mulhall to withdraw her case, the court could have taken this into account in deciding the issue of costs.

“However, no such offer was made,” said Mr Justice Barr.

Mulhall, who received a life sentence in 2006 for the gruesome murder of Farah Swaleh Noor whose body was dismembered after he was killed, was imprisoned at the Dóchas Centre but was transferred to Limerick in December 2018.

The court heard Prison Service correspondence gave various reasons for the transfer.

These included that she had been found in a compromising position with a prison officer, had been involved in a number of liaisons behind bars, and that the transfer was for “her own safety and well-being”. Mulhall denied having liaisons in jail.

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The court heard that following the transfer to Limerick, Mulhall was twice brought back to the Dóchas Centre in May and July 2019 so she could visit her son.

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Linda and Charlotte Mulhall

Linda and Charlotte Mulhall

Linda and Charlotte Mulhall

In an affidavit, Limerick Prison governor Mark Kennedy said subsequent to each of these visits Mulhall was “noted to be out of sorts and took a number of weeks to return to a structured regime”.

Mr Kennedy said he was of the view the transfers were having “a negative destabilising effect” on Mulhall and he decided they should cease, with her son instead travelling to Limerick to visit her.

However, only two such visits occurred, and a stop was put to them due to the intervention of a third party.

The judge said the practical outcome of the decision by the Prison Service that visits could only occur in Limerick was that Mulhall could not have face-to-face visits with her son.

The onset of the pandemic in March led to the suspension of all in-person prison visits, although Mulhall did have video call and phone contact with her son.

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Jailed murderer Charlotte Mulhall. Photo: PA

Jailed murderer Charlotte Mulhall. Photo: PA

Jailed murderer Charlotte Mulhall. Photo: PA

The judge said he was satisfied the Prison Service had made a bona fide effort to treat Mulhall fairly and to have regard to her visitation rights with her son.

That this was partially frustrated by a third party was beyond the control of the Prison Service, he said.

Conor Power SC and Cian Kelly BL, instructed by Tracy Horan & Co, represented Mulhall, while the Prison Service was represented by Anne-Marie Lawlor SC and Michael Hourigan BL, instructed by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office.

Mulhall murdered her mother Kathleen’s boyfriend Mr Noor in Dublin in 2005.

Her sister Linda (47) was sentenced to 15 years for manslaughter.

Mr Noor’s body was dismembered and parts of his body were later found dumped in Dublin’s Royal Canal but his head has never been found.

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