Malcolm Macarthur takes one more step to freedom after 29 years
Killer's day out is preparation for possible parole
NOTORIOUS murderer Malcolm Macarthur took another step to freedom yesterday when he was allowed out on day release from his prison home at Shelton Abbey.
It was his second release this month from the open centre, near Arklow, Co Wicklow, as the prison authorities prepared him for eventual integration back into society.
Macarthur (66) has been a model prisoner during the 29 years that he has been locked up and has always abided by the conditions of the eight temporary releases granted to him since he was transferred in 2004 to the relatively lax regime of Shelton Abbey.
A final decision on permanent release will be made by Justice Minister Alan Shatter but much will depend on a fresh assessment of his case by the Parole Board.
Macarthur had managed to avoid the media during his Christmas Day paroles when he was given time to celebrate the festive season with family members in south Dublin.
But he walked into the full glare of publicity when was out for a weekend earlier this month and was spotted walking around Dun Laoghaire.
On that occasion, Macarthur told the Irish Independent as he waited to be collected by a prison van to take him back to Shelton Abbey that he was anxious to preserve anonymity. He was reluctant to remove the floppy hat that he had pulled down over his face.
Perhaps mindful of his previous experience, Macarthur had a worried look on his face as he paced up and down the platform at Arklow station while waiting to board the 8.40am train to Dublin yesterday.
He had been allowed out of Shelton after breakfast and dropped off at the station for another visit to relatives and a day enjoying pleasures that have been denied him for almost three decades.
Macarthur likes to visit art galleries and museums during his breaks from custody and he was snappily dressed, wearing a brown jacket and light-coloured slacks, blue striped tie and grey shirt with a brown hankie in his breast pocket and brown shoes.
Yesterday evening, he returned by train and was again collected by a prison officer.
His day out was part of a structured programme of temporary release.
Prison officials have indicated that a decision on Macarthur's full release is not likely to be taken for some time.
The prisoner is expected to be granted further spells of temporary release before his parole assessment is completed.
Macarthur was arrested in the Dalkey home of the then attorney general Patrick Connolly during an investigation into the murders of nurse Bridie Gargan in the Phoenix Park, Dublin and farmer Donal Dunne, in Edenderry, Co Offaly.
Macarthur was subsequently convicted of the Gargan murder and the State entered a nolle prosequi in the Dunne case.