Belfast Telegraph

Killer's prison transfer 'wrong'

The transfer of a Garda killer to a low security prison from which he later escaped was wrong, Justice Minister Alan Shatter says.

Martin McDermott, 26, was arrested in Derry by the Police Service of Northern Ireland earlier this month after absconding from Loughan House, an open prison in Blacklion, Co Cavan.

He was serving a seven year jail sentence handed down last July for the manslaughter of Garda Gary McLoughlin in 2009.

A report on the break-out by the Irish Prison Service said McDermott was moved to the Co Cavan facility from Midlands Prison on March 3 - just 12 days before he escaped.

Prison chiefs agreed to the transfer to facilitate family visits and to help his rehabilitation.

But Mr Shatter has rejected the reasons for the move.

"Having considered the facts of the case it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that this decision was wrong," he said. "First and foremost, in making the decision sufficient consideration was not given to the gravity of the heinous offence which had been committed. Neither was adequate consideration given to other criteria that should have been taken into account."

The Irish Prison Service report also reveals McDermott had previously escaped Loughan House during a separate sentence.

He had served a number of custodial periods between 2005 and 2008 for a range of offences including drink-driving, burglary, threatening and abusive behaviour and having no insurance.

The report states that while jailed in 2007 he absconded on November 27 that year, before returning to custody less than a week later.

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