Belfast Telegraph

Man on run from prison for two months is freed by court

By John Cassidy

A Belfast man has received a suspended prison sentence after being unlawfully at large from prison for over two months.

Derek Armstrong (25), of Thompson Hostel, Antrim Road, pleaded guilty to possessing Class B and C drugs and being at large without lawful excuse.

Belfast Crown Court was told that Armstrong was captured after police were called to a house at Bendigo Street off the Ravenhill Road in April 2014 following a report of an assault.

A Crown prosecutor said police spoke to the victim, who was "highly intoxicated'', and after giving a false name and date of birth said he just wanted to leave.

Officers discovered that the victim was Armstrong, who had been jailed for 21 months for causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Police established that Armstrong had been unlawfully at large for 65 days from Maghaberry prison since February 12, 2014.

The court heard he had failed to return from weekend leave.

Armstrong was taken to Musgrave PSNI station where officers found herbal cannabis and Tramadol tablets, prescription painkiller medication in his pocket.

Armstrong told police the herbal cannabis was for his personal use and admitted he didn't have a prescription for the Tramadaol.

A defence solicitor said Armstrong was finding it difficult coping with pain to a hand injury.

Judge Brian Sherrard sentenced Armstrong to 12 months for being unlawfully at large and a imposed a consecutive one-month sentence for possession of herbal cannabis. He received a further one-month current sentence for possessing Class C drugs.

The judge said he was suspending the sentence for three years to allow Armstrong to "continue to make progress'' in kicking drugs.

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