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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Teen leaves country as gardai seek his re-arrest

Tom Shiel

A man who has been in custody for three months in connection with the death of his father left the country on Friday, following his release.

Thomas Cunningham Junior (18) is charged in connection with the death of his father Thomas Cunningham Senior (46) whose body was found in the garden of his home in Ballinlough, Co Roscommon, last August.

He was being held on a charge of assault causing bodily harm.

He was released from custody on the instructions of a District Court judge last Friday and has since left Ireland while gardai are seeking to re-arrest him on a new charge of murder.

His solicitor Evan O'Dwyer said last night that his client was "out of the jurisdiction".

Mr O'Dwyer said he believed gardai had been looking for Mr Cunningham since Friday to proffer new charges.

Cunningham Junior was released twice from custody on Friday -- firstly at Harristown District Court, Castlerea, and later at Charlestown District Court, Co Mayo.

When Cunningham appeared before Judge David Anderson at the Harristown court, the judge was told the report of State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy was not to hand.

Mr O'Dwyer pointed out his client was detained on a charge of assault causing bodily harm.

He added that his client's liberty was more important than the workload of the State Pathologist and it was not justifiable for Cunningham to remain in custody.

Judge Anderson agreed with Mr O'Dwyer and ordered the release of the accused.

However, Cunningham was re-arrested outside the court.

Later in the day he was again brought before Judge Anderson, this time at a sitting of Charlestown District Court.

An application by the State to remand Cunningham in custody was again opposed by Mr O'Dwyer.

No new evidence was proferred against his client, the solicitor said.

Judge Anderson agreed and for a second time on Friday ordered the release of the accused from custody.

But Cunningham has since left the country and is now a wanted man.

Senior gardai at Castlerea handling the case could not be contacted yesterday and the Garda Press Office declined to comment.

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