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Police arrest killer who escaped from hospital

By Christopher Woodhouse

Published 05/05/2015

Convicted murderer Thomas Valliday
Convicted murderer Thomas Valliday

A killer who went on the run after escaping from prison guards at the Ulster Hospital has been arrested.

Convicted murderer Thomas Valliday (27) broke free from Prison Service staff at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, east Belfast, on Friday afternoon.

He was recaptured in the city centre yesterday evening and taken into custody for questioning.

"Following extensive police inquiries and with support and assistance from the public, officers arrested Thomas Valliday in Belfast earlier this evening," Superintendent Sean Wright said last night.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the public in helping police to get this dangerous individual back into custody and in keeping people safe."

Valliday was jailed for a minimum of 17 years in 2010 for the brutal murder of west Belfast father-of-two Frank "Bap" McGreevy.

Mr McGreevy (51) was found badly beaten at his flat in Ross Street in the lower Falls area in March 2008.

He died in hospital three days after the attack.

Valliday had been on a "bender" and was high on a mixture of drink and drugs when he battered the former IRA prisoner with a number of weapons, including a pick-axe handle and two broom shafts - one wooden, one metal.

He was on the run from Hydebank young offenders' centre when he committed the murder.

The killer, who was 20 at the time of the murder, attacked two other men and damaged two cars nearby shortly afterwards.

He handed himself into police the following day after his father and uncle threatened to hold him for police if he refused.

When interviewed, Valliday first claimed he got into a fight with Mr McGreevy outside his flat.

He then changed his story, saying he found Mr McGreevy injured inside his home after seeing two men running from the scene.

During his trial, Belfast Crown Court heard that during police interviews, Valliday claimed he knew Mr McGreevy was "somehow connected" with the IRA and a number of other people could have been responsible for his killing.

He refused to give names, saying "once I get out I will get killed stone dead, I know what they're like".

Valliday also accused Mr McGreevy of being a "killer" but he also described the dead man as "a gentleman".

Handing down a life sentence, Mr Justice Hart said Valliday had "shown no remorse whatever for his crime and I am satisfied that there are no mitigating factors in the case".

Following the sentencing, Mr McGreevy's family issued a statement in which they said they were "relieved that justice had been done".

Factfile

Thomas Valliday is the fifth killer to escape from custody in Northern Ireland in recent months.

Samuel McKinney, William Sloan and Patrick Byers all disappeared while on short-term release from prison.

Both Byers and Sloan handed themselves into police.

McKinney was recaptured in March, after three months on the run. A fourth killer, Desmond Savage, remains at large.

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