Tag Archives: prison law

Prison law specialist secures release for client

nottingham prison law specialist irene tolleyNottingham prison law specialist Irene Tolley finally secured release for a client at his seventh parole review.  Irene was introduced to the client at HMP Ranby through recommendations by other inmates in time for the final review.  Although he had representation during previous reviews, these had been without success.

Twelve years over tariff

Irene’s client was serving an automatic life sentence.  He had been sentenced in 2001 and his tariff was set at five years less the time he had served on remand. His tariff had expired in April 2005 therefore by the time Irene became involved he was more than twelve years over tariff.  He had served sixteen years because of problems with his sentence progression.

nottingham prison law specialist irene tolleyIrene receiving instructions then submitted an application for an oral hearing and this application was granted.  The panel chair was a retired Crown Court judge and Queen’s Counsel.

Bearing in mind the passage of time Irene’s application on behalf of her client was that he be immediately released.  Unfortunately, nobody involved in her  client’s assessment was supportive of such a suggestion.  This included the offender supervisor, offender manager and prison psychologist.

Although the application had been prepared and submitted in good time, it had not been passed onto the panel chair or offender manager.    Directions had been given previously for the offender manager to provide a full risk management plan but this plan had not been prepared.  This made matters difficult for the panel because they would have to consider release conditions.

Strong and persuasive arguments

Irene put forward strong and persuasive arguments on behalf of her client in order to try and secure his release:

  • he  had simply been in custody too long
  • he had been let down by the prison system with regard to courses and as a result three years were wasted in terms or progression to release
  • there was a real concern that if open conditions were recommended then he may not have a risk assessment within a three month period at that establishment
  • his current offender manager would not be able to carry out an assessment because his involvement was to cease
  • there was no information as to who the new offender manager would be or when they would be allocated
  • as a result there was a realistic possibility that his case would not have moved on any further by the next review date in terms of risk assessment

Despite the fact that there was no risk assessment, the panel were persuaded that Irene’s client should be released into supervised accommodation with only three additional licence conditions.

Irene’s client will no doubt be very pleased with the outcome of the this hearing, and will finally be able to continue with his rehabilitation within the community.

Instruct a prison law specialist

nottingham prison law specilist irene tolley
Irene Tolley, head of our prison law department

This case demonstrates that having the benefit of a specialist prison law adviser can persuade bodies such as the Parole Board to make decisions that are somewhat unusual.

Contact Nottingham prison law specialist Irene Tolley if you, a family member or friend need the benefit of her advice.  She can be contacted by telephone on 0115 9599550 or by post at the Nottingham office.  Alternatively you can use the form below.

Contact - Prison Law

Derby Prison Law Solicitor represents client at successful adjudication

derby prison law solicitor rosamunde bennDerby prison law solicitor Rosamunde Benn represented a client at adjudication at HMP Stoke Heath.  The client then took the time to provide favourable feedback on the representation that she provided him.

Representation at an independent adjudication

Rosamunde’s client had been charged in the prison with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour contrary to Prison Rule 51, paragraph 20.

Some information from the Howard League for Penal Reform about the use of adjudications since 2010 can be found here.

While attending education her client was alleged to have called the officer a ‘sausage’.  He then told the officer to  ‘shut up’.  He was said to have made a further threat that he would ‘see you on the other side of those gates’.  Comment was also made that the teacher was afraid.

derby prison law solicitor
HMP Stoke Heath

Our client denied making any such threats.  He was also able to offer a witness to the incident who would support his account.  In essence, he claimed that the incident had been blown out of all proportion.

Rosamunde’s client entered a not guilty plea and then the officer gave evidence.  Our client then gave his evidence and so did his witness.

The District Judge presiding over the adjudication did not find the charge proved because of the witness evidence.   He stated that although he found that the officer had given good evidence, the witness had given credible evidence as well.  He could not be sure that our client’s conduct was in breach of the rules so dismissed the charge.

Positive client feedback

At the conclusion of his case, our client took the time to offer positive feedback.  The feedback was all the more pleasing because he had not used VHS Fletchers before.  He stated ‘I was treated very well and would pass on how great your service is‘.  He then said ‘I was very pleased how well you came across.  Your advice and demeanour was great’.

When asked whether he had any suggestions that might help improve the level of service that we provide he replied ‘I do not have anything to say.  You are by far the best I have used’.

Instruct a Derby prison law solicitor

If you, a family member or friend require advice about any aspect of prison law then please get in touch with Derby prison law solicitor Rosamunde Benn.  She can be contacted by telephone on 01332 546818 or by using the form below.

Many aspects of the law remain in the scope of the legal aid scheme so advice will be free.  If not we aim to offer affordable fixed fees so that all prisoners have access to professional prison law advice and representation.

Contact - Prison Law


Parole Board recommend move to open conditions in complex case

parole board open conditions
Prison law specialist Irene Tolley

Prison law specialist and departmental manager Irene Tolley secured a transfer to open conditions directly from the high security estate in a very complicated case before the parole board.

Her client had originally been serving a life sentence for an allegation of conspiracy to murder.  The minimum term imposed in 2009 was one of 17 years.

He had initially been a Category A prisoner.  Irene had earlier been successful in persuading the Category A board that his categorisation be downgraded to Category B.

Irene’s client had maintained his innocence in relation to the allegation of conspiracy to murder so he appealed the conviction. The Court of Appeal directed a re-trial and he was acquitted.  Although appeals against conviction for the robbery matters were refused, a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection was imposed instead with a minimum term of 7 years.

Oral hearing before the Parole Board

Immediately following the successful appeal, Irene made representations that her client needed the benefit of an oral hearing. Because of the complications his case should not be dealt with as a paper review.

She requested that his oral hearing be brought forward to take into account a significantly reduced minimum term.  As a result, his oral hearing was heard just a fortnight after the expiry of his tariff.

Joint Representation with Queen’s Counsel

As the history of the case was complicated, Irene contacted counsel James Wood QC because he had undertaken the successful appeal on behalf of her client.  Irene had worked with counsel on many occasions over a 30 year career in criminal representation and prison law.  As a result he agreed to jointly represent their client at the oral hearing.

Neither release or open conditions were supported by the offender supervisor, offender manager or psychologist.  Application was made on his behalf for release despite the fact that our client was still in the high security estate.  The report writers were of the view however he ought to remain in closed conditions in the Category B estate.

Full argument was made to the panel on his behalf, with additional argument that if the panel did not agree with release he still ought to be moved to Category D open conditions.

Recommendation of move to open conditions

After argument from both lawyers the parole board decided to recommend a move to open conditions.  This has now been approved by the Secretary of State.  A further review was set for 15 months time to allow for resettlement and further risk assessment. Bearing in mind his good progress in prison so far, despite his sense of injustice, it appears likely that following compliance he will be released following the next review.

Appropriate representation and argument was provided on behalf of our client by both Irene and Queen’s Counsel.  He was very pleased with the result.

Contact prison law specialist Irene Tolley

If a friend or family member needs advice in relation to any aspect of prison law then please contact us.  Legal aid is still available for many aspects of prison law including parole board hearings.  If legal aid is no longer available then we will discuss the possibility of representation under an affordable fixed fee.

Irene can be contacted on 0115 9599550 or you can use the form below to contact us.

Contact - Prison Law


Parole Granted at First Request

Irene Tolley, Head of Prison Law Department, recently represented a client who wished to apply for parole.  He was serving a sentence made up as follows:

  • Attempt murder police office with firearm – 15 year sentence
  • Robbery – 7 years consecutive
  • Robbery – 7 years concurrent

This total sentence of twenty two years meant that Irene’s client remained a Category A prisoner throughout his sentence and had therefore been detained for thirteen years at high security establishments.

prison law solicitors vhs fletchers paroleIrene’s first involvement in his case was to make representations to his Category A status.  Her submissions in relation to this were immediately successful and he was downgraded to Category B in July.

His first parole hearing was heard a less than a month later.  Irene submitted an application for release on her client’s behalf.  Again, these representations were successful and Irene’s client has his release directed in October.

Such a decision was almost unprecedented.  Irene’s client had not spent any time in lower security prisons and had not completed any releases on temporary licence which would have helped assess suitability for release.

Client Doing Very Well

Irene has had contact with one of the Parole Board members since the decision was made.  Irene is pleased to be able to report that her client is doing very well.  He is in regular touch to update her on what he is up to – he has a job, works with both a High Court Judge and a professor in criminology at Cambridge, and travels the country giving presentations about his experiences.

Contact Irene about Parole

prison law parole hearings
Our Prison Law Services

If you or a family member need advice about parole or any other prison law matter then please contact Irene Tolley by telephone on 0115 9599550 or email her here.

She will be able to advise you as to whether legal aid funding remains available or whether you will need to take advantage of our affordable fixed fees.