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Killer serving life sentence gets extra year for escape

By Alan Erwin

Published 08/03/2016

A convicted murderer who went on the run after escaping from prison guards at the Ulster Hospital has had an additional year added to his life sentence
A convicted murderer who went on the run after escaping from prison guards at the Ulster Hospital has had an additional year added to his life sentence

A convicted murderer who went on the run after escaping from prison guards at the Ulster Hospital has had an additional year added to his life sentence.

Thomas Martin Valliday - who is serving a life sentence with a minimum of 17 years for the March 2008 murder of former IRA man Frank 'Bap' McGreevy - appeared at Downpatrick Crown Court yesterday on two charges arising from his escape from custody last May.

The 28-year-old, who is originally from west Belfast but whose address is now HMP Maghaberry, admitted a charge of escaping from lawful custody after conviction on May 1, 2015, and also possessing class C tablets, namely diazepam, on May 5, 2015.

During yesterday's hearing it emerged that after he handed himself in and was sent back to Maghaberry, Valliday was punished by spending seven days in solitary confinement.

He had privileges removed for 42 days.

It also emerged that Valliday - who was convicted by a jury in February 2010 of the murder of 51-year-old west Belfast father-of-two Mr McGreevy - was handed a life sentence, with the earliest possible release date set as 2025.

A Crown prosecutor told Judge Piers Grant that while a serving life prisoner, Valliday was brought to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald on May 1 last year for minor surgery on his hand.

During the hospital visit, Valliday was accompanied by prison staff.

At around 3pm, as he was waiting to be discharged, he went into a toilet cubicle attached to his room. He was able to slip off his handcuffs before running out of the cubicle and fleeing the two prison guards.

Despite the guards giving chase, Valliday was able to make his escape.

He was at large for several days before handing himself in at Musgrave Street PSNI station.

He was also found to be in possession of 219 class C diazepam tablets. Valliday later made the case that all the tablets were for his personal use.

Handing Valliday a 12-month sentence that will run consecutively to the life sentence he is already serving, Judge Grant said he needed to be punished for the "serious offences".

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