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Police hunt dangerous prisoner after Prison Service releases him accidentally

Police in Northern Ireland are hunting a dangerous prisoner charged with murder after the Prison Service released him accidentally.

Michael Lawrence Smith, 38, from Ardmonagh Gardens in Belfast, was on remand in the high security Maghaberry Prison when he was mistakenly released on Tuesday.

Smith is charged with the murder of Belfast man Stephen Carson, who was shot dead in his home in front of his nine-year-old son and partner in February 2016.

Police have described him as "dangerous" with "an extensive history of violence".

He had previously applied for High Court bail which was rejected following police objections.

PSNI Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said: "Michael Smith, who is deemed as dangerous, was last seen in the Belfast area at 2pm on Tuesday March 7.

"He has an extensive history of violence and I would urge the public not to approach him, but contact police immediately.

"I would ask Mr Smith to hand himself in to the authorities without any further delay and ask anyone who knows of his current whereabouts or who has any information to contact police on 999."

In a statement, the Department of Justice said: "The matters surrounding the erroneous release of Michael Lawrence Smith are currently under investigation. The Prison Service would urge anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact the police immediately."

The last known sighting of Smith was in the Finaghy area on the outskirts of Belfast at around 12.30pm on Tuesday.

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