Wednesday 26 October 2016

'Facebook escape artist' walked out of unlocked cell in courthouse

Gordon Deegan

Published 12/11/2015 | 08:25

Jason Freyne walked out of his cell
Jason Freyne walked out of his cell

‘Facebook escape artist’, Jason Freyne escaped from custody last July by opening a malfunctioning unlocked cell door and walked out the backdoor of a courthouse.

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At Ennis District Court yesterday, Judge Patrick Durcan described the incident at Ennis courthouse on July 15th last as “Opportunity Knocks” and asked was Mr Freyne “like the man in the Harry Potter film?”

In court yesterday, Mr Freyne (24) pleaded guilty to the offence arising from his escape from custody but the Limerick man got off ‘scot’free’ after Judge Durcan struck out the case.

After hearing evidence that the cell door wasn’t locked, Judge Durcan said: “Isn’t the natural instinct just to walk away?”

Judge Durcan compared Mr Freyne’s actions to that of a fish caught on a hook. He said: “If you have a  fish badly on the hook, it will try to get back into the water.”

Mr Freyne of Ash Avenue, Carew Park, Limerick remained at large for six days and during that time, Freyne posted pictures on his Facebook page dressed in a blue Adidas tracksuit giving the thumbs up and a day after he broke free, Freyne posted online to his friends asking “Who else is out today haha?”.

One friend added a picture of the Leonardo Di Caprio movie 'Catch me if you can" urging Freyne to watch it while at large.

The Gardai and the Prison Service remain baffled on how Mr Freyne escaped.

Asked by Judge Durcan how Mr Freyne escaped, Det Garda Frank Browne told the court: “We’re not sure, there was an issue with the door and he made good his escape.”

In reply, Judge Durcan said: “You are telling me the door opened? It wasn’t locked?”

In response, Det Browne said: “We are still not 100% how he escaped.”

Det Browne said that there no evidence that the door was forced.

Insp Tom Kennedy told the court: “The door was thought to be locked and it wasn’t.”

In reply, Judge Durcan said: “Mr Freyne was down there in the cell. He had nothing to do. He touched the door and it opened, isn’t that what happened?”

Insp Kennedy said: “There a malfunction with the door and I think the doors have been replaced since this incident.”

Det Browne said that after remaining at large for five days, Mr Freyne presented himself at Limerick prison.

Judge Durcan described as a bizarre case “and what was more bizarre is that he turned up at Limerick prison five days later and just knocked on the door”.

The judge asked: “Was the weather getting bad or what?” and in reply, Det Brennan said: “It was the Summer and as you know we didn’t have a great Summer.”

Det Browne said that Mr Freyne had 54 previous convictions including 16 for road traffic offences and 15 for Public Order offences.

Solicitor for Mr Freyne, William Cahir said: “Mr Freyne has spent an awful lot of his life in custody. He hit against the door and it opened. He avails of the opportunity, is at liberty for five days and presents himself to Limerick prison under his own steam.”

Mr Cahir said: “He is a man presented with circumstance where door hadn’t locked and out the door he went. If everyone was under obligation not to move because the doors were open, we wouldn’t need prison officers or prison."

However, Mr Freyne didn’t walk free from court yesterday as he is currently serving a sentence until late Spring 2016 following Judge Durcan in September imposing an additional three month jail term on Freyne to what he was serving already for possessing a knife in a public place.

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