Thursday 22 March 2018

Thug's term extended after escaping during a chipper stop

Lee McDonnell
Lee McDonnell

Conor Gallagher

A violent criminal who escaped from a prison van when officers stopped at a chipper to get him food has had his sentence extended by 10 months.

Lee McDonnell (24), who has 111 previous convictions, remained at large for five weeks until he was caught by gardai following a chase on foot in Clondalkin, Dublin.

He is serving a nine-year sentence for an aggravated burglary in which he broke into a house, beat a man with the butt of a replica gun and took his car.

Later that day, he robbed a petrol station using the stolen car and also beat the shopkeeper with the replica gun. He is not due for release until September, 2021, after the Court of Appeal extended his sentence by two years earlier this year.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that, although McDonnell - with a previous address of Lough Conn Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin - faced internal disciplinary proceedings in Portlaoise Prison after his capture, his standard 25pc remission for good behaviour will not be affected. Instead, he was deprived of leisure activities, visits and the right to wear his own clothes for 56 days.

Sentencing McDonnell yesterday, Judge Martin Nolan said he had to deter him and others from future escape attempts.


Judge Nolan imposed a ten-month sentence, pushing McDonnell's release date to 2022. The judge commented that "there's no such thing as perfect security and Mr McDonnell took advantage of that", adding: "I don't think there's any criticism of the prison staff who were simply buying food."

McDonnell pleaded guilty to escaping from lawful custody and to possessing a Stanley blade on his capture.

Detective Garda Michael O'Brien told John Byrne BL, prosecuting, that McDonnell was taken to the Mater Hospital for treatment for an arm injury in rigid handcuffs.

After treatment medical staff requested that the rigid cuffs be left off him because of the injury. He was put in the back of the van, handcuffed to an officer.

When another officer went into a chipper to get him food McDonnell pretended to be sick and asked that the van window be opened. He slipped out of his handcuff, leaned out the window and opened the door before escaping up Emmet Road.

The following month two gardai on foot patrol in Clondalkin spotted him. They chased him through several back gardens and on to a flat kitchen roof, before tackling him to the ground and arresting him.

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