A notorious killer who glued his victim's lips together has won a legal battle over a reduction in temporary prison release arrangements.
A High Court judge quashed decisions to remove Adrian Hayes from the test programme and raise his security categorisation for trying to bring drugs back into the jail.
Mr Justice McCloskey ruled that prison chiefs failed to properly consider the 44-year-old's claims that he acted under duress.
Hayes is nearing the end of a minimum 17-year sentence imposed for murdering Co Antrim woman Julie Tennant in 2000.
The 21-year-old victim had been lured to his home in Ballymena, 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 detectives 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 then alerted police.
Ms Tennant's body was discovered buried in a ditch.
Hayes, originally from Broughshane, Co Antrim, had been on a pre-release testing programme of supervised periods outside jail and scheduled to progress to unaccompanied overnight releases.
But in December 2015 he was arrested for the alleged possession of cannabis after returning from groundsman duties beyond the perimeter of HMP Maghaberry.
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.
At the time of the incident Hayes was withdrawn from the pre-release programme and had his security classification increased.
He has now been allowed back onto the scheme ahead of a Parole Commissioner's hearing next month.
But his lawyers issued judicial review proceedings against the Prison Service, claiming its original decisions were procedurally unfair and unreasonable.
They argued that Hayes would now be in an open prison if the arrangements had been left in place.
Backing their case, Mr Justice McCloskey said today: "There was a manifest failure by the Prison Service to engage with the applicant's protestations of duress.
"These were dismissed abruptly and out of hand."
Confirming his intention to quash the decisions, he added: "One searches in vain for a clear acknowledgement that the applicant was entitled to the presumption of innocence.
"On the contrary, the persistent undercurrent was one of a presumption of guilt."
The judge also awarded costs to Hayes in bringing the challenge.