A notorious killer from Ballymena had temporary prison release arrangements unlawfully cut for trying to bring drugs back inside, the High Court heard today.
Lawyers for Adrian Hayes also argued his security classification was wrongly increased over the incident at HMP Maghaberry.
The 44-year-old, who claims he acted under duress, is mounting a legal challenge ahead of a hearing to determine if he should be freed from jail.
He is nearing the end of a minimum 17-year sentence imposed for murdering 21-year-old Julie Tennant in 2000.
She was lured to his home in Ballymena before being punched to the floor and pummelled about the face for up to 20 minutes.
As the victim lay moaning, Hayes was said to have “super glued” her lips together, later telling police he wanted to keep her quiet because the noise was “doing his head in”.
Following the killing Hayes fled to England to stay with an uncle who later alerted police.
Ms Tennant’s body was discovered buried in a ditch.
Hayes, originally from Broughshane, had been on a scheme of unaccompanied day releases from prison.
But he lost those privileges after being arrested at the jail in December for alleged possession of cannabis.
The court heard how the convicted killer claimed he had the package amid threats made to him and members of his family.
Earlier this year the drugs charge against him was stayed due to an issue over CCTV footage.
Judicial review proceedings were then launched against the Prison Service for reducing his temporary release arrangements to accompanied trips.
Barrister Bobbie-Leigh Herdman claimed that step, and an increased security classification, had been procedurally unfair and unreasonable.
Ms Herdman told the court: “Had things proceeded as they should have, he would now be in an open prison.”
Laura McMahon, for the Prison Service, countered that Hayes was given a number of opportunities to explain the alleged pressure was under, but provided a “haze of vagueness”.
She contended: “They (the Prison Service) are faced with a man who has manifested a risk with regards to the pre-release testing.”
Following submissions the judge, Mr Justice McCloskey, pledged to deliver his verdict later this month.