Gardai no closer to fugitive after eight months on the run
Published 25/08/2010 | 05:00
GARDAI have been unable to find a dangerous criminal who has been on the run for the past eight months after being let out of prison on temporary release.
Convicted drug dealer Jeffrey Finnegan (30), who was a suspect in the murder of innocent mother-of-one Donna Cleary, failed to return to Shelton Abbey prison in Co Wicklow after being freed on compassionate grounds last Christmas.
Ms Cleary's father Peter last night criticised the decision of the Prison Service to firstly transfer Finnegan from Mountjoy to the lower-security Shelton Abbey, and secondly to grant his temporary release.
When he absconded, Fin-negan was serving a five-year sentence for unlawful use of a stolen car and dangerous driving. The car overturned while gardai pursued Finnegan during a high-speed chase in November 2005.
He has 47 previous convictions for offences including assault causing harm.
"I couldn't understand how he was let out of Mountjoy and transferred to an open prison," said Mr Cleary.
"How could a serious prisoner like that be left into a low-security prison and then allowed out on temporary release? There is something radically wrong somewhere."
Gardai have been unable to locate him since he absconded and it is feared he may have gone abroad.
A probation report from 2008 revealed drug user Finnegan, from Rathvilly Drive, Finglas, was at high risk of reoffending, but noted that he had made some attempts to rehabilitate himself.
In March 2006 he was one of three men arrested and questioned over the murder of Donna Cleary, who died after shots were fired indiscriminately into a house at Adare Green in Coolock.
The shooting happened after a group of men were refused entry to a party at the house.
Finnegan was a close associate of fellow criminal John Daly, who was shot dead in October 2007. Finnegan himself was also the victim of an assassination attempt, in December 2006, outside a house in Cabra.
However, he survived, after sustaining gunshot wounds to the neck and back.