Belfast Telegraph

Demands for answers over convicted killer Victor Kennedy’s escape from hospital in Northern Ireland

By Jonathan Bell

The Prison Service was staying silent last night over how a dangerous convicted killer was able to escape custody while being treated at a Northern Ireland hospital.

Magilligan inmate Victor Kennedy (40) made a bid for freedom from the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine just after 10.30pm on Sunday.

The murderer was at the hospital for treatment to an arm injury.

Following an emergency alert, police said he was recaptured after 2am and thanked the public for their assistance.

Police referred questions about the incident to the prison service.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice would only say an investigation will take place.

In March 2009, Kennedy, who was aged 31 at the time, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life for the killing of a school teacher. He was ordered to serve a minimum 14 years.

Michael McGinnis, a former Royal Navy sailor who once taught English children in Korea, was found lying at the bottom of concrete steps at Blackburn Path in Limavady in 2007 suffering multiple injuries.

The court heard that Kennedy, from Portrush, attacked him to steal his phone in order to sell it for money to buy alcohol.

Trial judge Mr Justice Weir said at the time that Kennedy posed a "high risk of harm" to the public.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said the prison service needed to be "more explicit" in explaining how the escape was allowed to happen.

"Priority should be to capturing the individual and then provide an explanation as to the background of the incident," the DUP MP said.

"The most important thing is that this doesn't happen again and there have been a number of incidents recently of prisoners escaping custody while out of the confines of the jail.

"There is an overriding concern for public safety. I trust they will be conducting a thorough review of how this happened. It should go without saying, when a prisoner convicted of murder is taken out of prison he should be under particularly tight security."

The Department of Justice said it would not comment on individual prisoners.

There are currently six people on the prison service's wanted list after escaping custody, including one man convicted of a brutal murder in 1999. Paul James Johnston has been on the run since April. The 35-year-old, along with his brother, was convicted of the murder of west Belfast man Sean May (58).

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