Wednesday 14 November 2018

Recaptured prisoner McDermott questioned over criminal damage in Derry – PSNI

Martin McDermott leaving the court in Letterkenny last night. Picture: Declan Doherty
Martin McDermott leaving the court in Letterkenny last night. Picture: Declan Doherty
Martin McDermot
Garda Gary McLoughlin

Independent.ie reporters

RECAPTURED prisoner Martin McDermott is being questioned over criminal damage offences in the Foyle area of Derry.

PSNI officers confirmed the questioning after McDermott, who was arrested in Derry this morning, having escaped from Loughan House prison in Cavan yesterday.

Earlier today, Justice Minister Alan Shatter ordered a full report on how McDermott escaped from a low security prison and why he was transferred to an open centre.

Jailed for seven years last July for the manslaughter of Garda Gary McLoughlin, McDermott, from Raphoe in Co Donegal, absconded from Loughan House, an open low security prison in Blacklion, Co Cavan, yesterday.

A Garda spokesman earlier confirmed the escaped prisoner was being detained at a PSNI station in Derry.

Minister Shatter has order a report from Michael Donnellan, the director-general of the Irish Prison Service.

"The report will cover the full details as to how and why (McDermott) was transferred from a closed prison to an open centre and the circumstances surrounding his absconding from Loughan House," said a spokesman for the Justice Minister

A massive cross-border manhunt was launched after McDermott, who was eight months into his sentence, was found to be missing during a headcount at Loughan House at 5pm yesterday.

The jail is close to the border with Northern Ireland.

Descriptions of the prisoner had been issued to all garda stations, while ports and airports on both sides of the border were put on alert.

Dara Calleary, Fianna Fail's justice spokesman, described the break-out as "utterly disgraceful" and called for an investigation.

"It is intolerable that a person convicted of killing a garda would be detained in a low-security prison and the reports that there is no confirmation on what time he escaped is extraordinary," he said.

McDermott was found guilty of the manslaughter of Garda McLoughlin and the reckless endangerment of Garda Bernard McLaughlin in Burt, Co Donegal, in December 2009.

He was twice over the legal drink-drive limit when he had led detectives on a 30km (19-mile) pursuit - reaching speeds of more than 150kph (93mph) - before crashing into another patrol car and killing a young garda.

McDermott was thrown out of his car and was found 55m (180ft) down the road by gardai.

He was jailed for eight years, with the last year suspended, and disqualified from driving for 20 years.

The court heard he had 91 previous convictions - many for traffic offences including drink-driving as well as burglary and forgery.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) had also demanded a full inquiry.

Irish Independent

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