Alert as Jonathan Turley who knifed victim in frenzy fails to return to prison after bail
A violent criminal who once stabbed a man five times after an argument over a scarf has gone missing while on bail.
Police have warned the public not to approach Jonathan Turley, who has been on the run since the weekend.
The 33-year-old was granted bail on Saturday but failed to return to prison.
Police said Turley has an extensive history of violence and may pose a risk to the public.
It is another embarrassment for the authorities after a series of high-profile prisoners absconding in recent months. DUP peer Lord Morrow said: "It is time this whole programme of release was reviewed because this is happening far too often."
It is understood Turley was granted compassionate court bail for an eight-hour period on Saturday. He was due to return to Magilligan Prison at 8pm, but never showed up.
However, it took until yesterday for police to warn the public. Detective Inspector Jenna Fitzpatrick said: "We know that Mr Turley travelled to Belfast on Saturday evening and was then sighted in the Newcastle area on Sunday.
"We are conducting enquiries into each of these reports. However, we cannot rule out that Mr Turley may be travelling within Northern Ireland.
"I would urge the public not to approach Mr Turley as he has an extensive history of violence and may pose a risk to the them. I would also appeal to Mr Turley to hand himself in to the authorities without any further delay."
Earlier this month convicted murderer Thomas Valliday escaped from prison staff while at the Ulster Hospital.
Valliday, who was jailed for 17 years for the murder of west Belfast man Frank 'Bap' McGreevy in 2008, was arrested in Belfast after four days on the run. Lord Morrow, who has called for tighter controls on prisoner release, said it was unacceptable that another dangerous offender was at large.
"Prisoners are being released and too many are taking liberties and escaping," he added. "It is not acceptable for the victims or the public who could be in danger."
The Fermanagh/South Tyrone MLA also questioned why it took five days for the public to be informed of his disappearance.
"That is another very alarming aspect - why was the public not alerted to this?" he added. "I suspect had he been caught within 24 or 48 hours, we never would have heard about it.
"The public should have been made aware right away that such a dangerous criminal was at large."
Turley, who previously lived in the north Belfast area, was jailed in May 2008 for a stabbing attack. He became angry after his victim mistook his scarf for a towel and mopped his head with it.
Turley was enraged at this and a fight broke out. A court heard how Turley then attacked his victim with a kitchen knife, stabbing him five times in the upper body.