Friday 15 November 2019

Chip shop jail-break thug suspected of major crime spree while on the run

Lee McDonnell
Lee McDonnell

Alan O'Keeffe

Prison-van escapee Lee McDonnell is facing disciplinary proceedings in jail following his dramatic re-capture in a chase through suburban gardens.

McDonnell (23) is also likely to face new charges by gardai of escaping from lawful custody which would extend his current 10-year sentence for violent crimes by up to six months.

The Dublin criminal escaped from a prison van on December 17 shortly after he was brought from prison in Portlaoise to an appointment at the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

Officers stopped the van in Inchicore to buy him chips but he escaped when the van door was opened.


More than a month later, McDonnell, from Lough Conn Road, Ballyfermot, was seen by gardai on Saturday evening walking at Rowlagh Avenue in Ronanstown in Dublin around 5pm.

He sprinted away when he saw the gardai approaching and ran across a number of gardens.

He was eventually cornered when he climbed onto the roof of a garage and he gave himself up.

He was brought to Ronanstown Garda Gtation and transferred to the Midlands Prison.

A spokesman for the Prison Service confirmed he was back in custody but declined to speak about disciplinary procedures that he faces.

Security sources indicated McDonnell will be brought before the prison governor who will decide on sanctions to be imposed.

Disciplinary action can include removal of the privilege of free association with other prisoners which would mean him being barred from training courses, recreational facilities and evening visits to the prison yard.

Visits and phone calls from friends could also be made off-limits but contacts with family members are never disallowed.

The Governor can also decide he could lose up to two weeks remission of his sentence.

The Dubliner already has 108 previous convictions, including hijacking, firearms possession, robbery, assault, criminal damages, endangerment, and dangerous driving.

McDonnell was sent to prison in 2012 and was not due to be released until 2019.

While a fugitive following his escape, it was reported he was involved in a spate of crimes in Armagh and Louth, involving terrorising business people with knives and guns in raids on their homes and attempting to hold up a security van in South Dublin.

Last February, a seven-year sentence was imposed on him after a court heard that McDonnell and an accomplice broke through the front door of a house as the homeowner tried to fight them off.

They beat the man over the head with an imitation firearm made from two metal bars until he gave them keys to his car.

They then used the vehicle to commit a service station robbery three hours later in January 2011.

In May 2013, he was jailed for three years for beating a shop keeper in the head with the butt of a replica handgun.


Sources said McDonnell was extremely violent and disruptive in prison and intimidated other inmates.

He wasn't present for proceedings at the Court of Appeal on December 20 last because of his escape.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had lodged an appeal against McDonnell's three-year jail term for the attack on the shopkeeper on grounds that it was unduly lenient.

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