Men sentenced in smuggled prison note case

A transcript of the note

A transcript of the note

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Two Derry men have been sentenced to a total of 40 months for having a handwritten note which they attempted to smuggle into the dissident republican wing of a top security prison.

Thomas Ashe Mellon (39), of Rathmore Road, received a sentence of two years and four months at Belfast Crown Court after Judge David McFarland said he had a “high culpability’’ in the case as he had written the note.

William McDonnell (29), of Culdaff Gardens in the city, received a 12 month sentence after the judge said he had played a “lesser role’’ by acting as a courier.

Judge McFarland said that the Mellon was “clearly someone who was speaking in authority’’ when he wrote the note and sentenced him to 28 months, with half to be spent in prison and the remaining 14 months on supervised licence.

Describing McDonnell as the “courier or as some might describe you as a ‘patsy’’, the judge sentenced him to one year, split half and half between custody and licence.