While currently suspended prison officer Colin Gallagher (55) faces a public service misconduct allegation, his four co-defendants are all charged with aiding and abetting the alleged misconduct.
Gallagher, whose address was given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, is charged with “deliberately misconducting himself to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public trust in you, in that you have surreptitiously brought to HMP Maghaberry certain illicit items which you then passed to a life-sentenced prisoner, for your own enrichment or the enrichment of others, without excuse or reasonable justification, knowing that it was wrong of you to surrender to such activity.
His career criminal co-defendant, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence for attempted murder, is accused of aiding and abetting misconduct in the performance of public duty between October 1, 2016 and March 22, 2017 .
Denise Agnes Fitzsimons (60), her daughter Colleen Fitzsimons (age unknown) of Wyndham Street in Belfast and Eamon Clarke, 33, of Abbeyville Place in Newtownabbey, face the same charge.
Additionally, Denise Fitzsimons also allegedly possessed £6,000 in felony cash at her Belfast home on Rosevale Street on March 20, 2017.
The charges were brought following a police investigation into an alleged conspiracy to deal in illegal substances at a prison, which discovered cash, drugs and cellphones in the home of an on-duty prison officer.
Gallagher’s defense attorney, Patrick Higgins, told the court the case revolved around the prison officer “who allegedly took illicit items to jail for two inmates on duty” and that the investigation produced ” hundreds of tapes, phone calls and transcripts between co-defendants”.
Describing that it was “an extremely substantial and extremely complex case”, he revealed that in addition there will be evidence from “helicopter footage, undercover agents and CCTV inside and outside prison.
Asking for legal aid, Mr Higgins said Gallagher ‘denies any involvement’ but stressed that given his ‘position of trust… there is no doubt that if found guilty he would be punishable by an extremely heavy custodial sentence”.
The case against the five had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing today (Monday) which would have seen it brought to the Crown Court, but asking for the EP to be adjourned, Mr Higgins said there were 4,000 pages of evidence, so the adjournment would give the defendants’ legal teams time to sift through the voluminous documents.
Granting legal aid, District Judge Rosie Watters adjourned the case to May 16.
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