Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 4 October 2015

Killer on the run after Christmas leave

By Deborah McAleese

Published 06/01/2009

Killer John Fulton
Killer John Fulton

A man who beat and kicked a father-of-two to death in a vicious street attack has gone on the run from jail.

John William Fulton — jailed in 2006 for the manslaughter of Belfast man Thomas Venus, 28, who drowned in his own blood after the brutal beating — failed to return to Magilligan Prison after being granted Christmas Home Leave.

He was due to return to the prison on Friday but has gone on the run and is now listed by the Northern Ireland Prison Service as being unlawfully at large.

Fulton’s victim’s lifeless and bloody body was discovered lying at the side of a north Belfast road on April 25, 2004.

He had been chased from the Alexander Bar on the York Road by Fulton, 24, and three other men. Fulton and another man, Mark McCullough, from Cosgrove Heights, then punched and kicked him as he lay on the road.

CCTV footage had picked up the four men chasing Mr Venus along the York Road following a row in the Alexandra Bar.

Fulton and McCullough were then spotted launching the assault on Mr Venus after he fell to the ground.

Following the attack, Mr Venus was left lying in the middle of the road but Fulton and McCullough were then seen moving him towards the side of the road.

The pair were jailed in 2006 for six years for manslaughter. Due to 50% remission they are due for release later this year.

Another two men, Gary McCartney, from Merston Gardens, and John Annesley from Greenmount Place, were jailed for a year after admitting causing an affray.

All four had originally been charged with murder.

At the time Mr Venus’s family said they were devastated by the lenient sentences handed out to the attackers.

His father, Francie Venus, said: “Since Thomas died my life has not been the same. I have tried to get on with things but this has set us all back, it has left us shattered.”

Fulton, originally from the Shore Road in north Belfast, was one of 72 prisoners granted Christmas Home Leave.

A 19-year-old burglar, Daniel Connors, has also gone on the run after being granted Christmas leave. Connors was due to return to Hydebank on December 29 but failed to report.

There are currently 14 unlawfully at large prisoners. A total of 381 have gone on the run since 2001.

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