A DANGEROUS criminal who was chased by gardai for over 200 kilometres had previously escaped from the same open prison that a garda killer absconded from.
The suspect went on a crime wave after he was given temporary release from the Midlands Prison less than fortnight ago.
He was finally arrested by gardai after going on a crazed countrywide rampage in which he terrorised a man in an aggravated burglary and was involved in a high speed garda pursuit which started in Killarney, Co Kerry and ended in Portlaoise, Co Laois.
The notorious criminal from Naas, Co Kildare, is in custody today but sources say that gardai are "shocked and disgusted" that he had been released from prison in the first place.
The Herald can reveal that the bizarre chain of events started back in October when the 22-year-old -- who was serving a sentence for burglary offences -- simply walked out of Loughan House open prison in Co Cavan.
Loughan House is the controversial low-security facility which garda killer Martin McDermott recently walked out of, causing outrage.
Meanwhile the suspect who went on the crime rampage last weekend spent more than two months on the run after he escaped from Loughan House before he was picked up by gardai in late December.
The criminal, who is a member of the Travelling community, was then sent to the higher security Midlands Prison where he was due to finish the last few months of his sentence for burglary offences.
However last month -- just days after garda killer McDermott absconded -- the Traveller criminal was granted temporary release from jail. Sources have revealed that a condition of his temporary release was that he sign in at the prison once a week but the reckless criminal failed to do this.
His status was then changed to "unlawfully at large" and gardai were notified and directed to arrest him on sight.
Nothing was then heard from the man until last weekend when he and his wife travelled to Killarney, Co Kerry, in a car which was stolen in Dundrum, south Dublin.
When they got to the Co Kerry town, the couple booked into a plush hotel while he went on a crime wave.
Sources say that he was involved in three burglaries as well as an incident where fuel was stolen from a petrol station and a number of incidents of criminal damage.
However the most serious incident was an aggravated burglary in which a local man in his 40s was terrorised in his own bed when the suspect broke into his house.
"The victim was threatened and was forced to hand over a sum of cash and his car keys," said a source.
The criminal then sped off in the man's VW Golf car and a high-speed chase with gardai ensued, lasting for almost three hours.
A senior source explained: "It was not a constant chase -- gardai from different districts were involved. It ended near Portlaoise where gardai from the Tipperary Traffic Corps apprehended the suspect.
"When breathalysed it emerged that the man was well over the drink driving limit.
"Someone could have easily been killed while all this was happening and earlier a lot of people in Killarney were terrorised by this man's activities.
"What is causing big concern is the fact that this man was at large in the first place. It raises a lot of issues again -- he was given temporary release despite the fact that he had absconded from an open jail just a few months ago".