Belfast Telegraph

Child killer John Clifford arrested in Newry after week on the run

By Gareth Cross

Convicted child killer John Clifford has been arrested by police in Newry after over a week on the run.

Clifford (56) had been released on Sunday September 2 to attend an appointment but failed to return when expected.

He will be returned to prison by the PSNI.

Police thanked the Garda for their assistance in locating Clifford and returning him to Northern Ireland.

"I would also like to thank those members of the public who contacted us with information and the media for their assistance in publicising our appeals for information," Detective Inspector Michael McDonnell said.

Clifford had been released from Burren House on the Crumlin Road, a facility housing 22 inmates nearing the end of their sentences and is a satellite unit of Maghaberry.

The Garda joined the hunt for Clifford last week after it was believed he may have travelled to the Republic of Ireland.

Clifford was jailed for the brutal rape and murder of his eight-year-old niece Sue Ellen Clifford in 1988.

He had been trusted to babysit her that evening at her north Belfast home, but instead sexually assaulted and strangled her before dumping the child's body on a railway line.

The trauma caused her mother Martha Adair to take her own life less than two years later.

In 2010, the family of his victim spoke publicly about their fears that Clifford would kill again.

Sue Ellen's sister Deborah Adair said at the time: "Mark my words, he will rape or murder another child. John Clifford is pure evil."

"That man destroyed my family - he didn't only murder my sister Sue Ellen, he was responsible for the suicide of my mummy." It was also reported that at the time of the murder Clifford was under death threat from loyalist paramilitaries.

The killer was previously released in 2005, with his location kept a secret, but was sent back to prison after breaching the terms of his probation.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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