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On-the-run prisoner was due in court


Lee McDonnell on right

Lee McDonnell on right


Lee McDonnell on right

AN inmate who is on the run after escaping from a prison van was yesterday due in court where his sentence for robbery is being appealed by prosecutors on grounds that it was too lenient.

The court heard Lee McDonnell (23), from Ballyfermot, was "not present" because he escaped custody the previous day.

McDonnell was taken from Portlaoise Prison on Wedneday for hospital treatment in Dublin.

However, he fled as the prison van stopped at a chipper at Inchicore to get McDonnell something to eat.

When officers opened the back of the van, McDonnell - who was wearing handcuffs - jumped out and escaped.

The prison authorities immediately notified gardai who issued an alert.

He was last night still on the run and wasn't present for yesterday's proceedings at the Court of Appeal.

McDonnell, of Lough Conn road in Ballyfermot, pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery at Sarsfield Service Station, Ballyfermot, on January 21, 2012.

McDonnell also pleaded guilty to robbery of cigarettes and a sunglass case and to robbery of the shop assistant.

He was sentenced to six years' imprisonment with the final three suspended by Judge Martin Nolan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on November 19, 2012.

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

However, counsel for the DPP, Michael Bowman SC, told the Court of Appeal early yesterday morning that McDonnell was "not present" for the application.

Mr Bowman said McDonnell was "not going to be produced due to circumstances beyond anybody's control".

Mr Justice Michael Peart put the matter back to January 26 with a view to fixing a date for hearing.