Belfast Telegraph

Dog found fugitive killer Kennedy hiding behind bins after hospital escape in Northern Ireland

By Claire Williamson

A dangerous, convicted prisoner who escaped custody while being treated at a Northern Ireland hospital was found hiding behind bins by a police dog.

Magilligan inmate Victor Kennedy (40) made a bid for freedom from the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine just after 10.30pm on Sunday.

The murderer, who is serving a life sentence,  was at the hospital for treatment to an arm injury.

Following an emergency alert, police said he was recaptured after 2am and thanked the public for their assistance.

But while officers including air support were deployed - the PSNI have revealed that after a "number of frustrating hours" the recapture was thanks to their dog Rex.

The PSNI said: "After a number of frustrating hours searching the surrounding area, enquiries led police to the Ballysally estate.

"It was there PD Rex picked up the suspects track and followed the trail across football pitches, through alleys, to the other side of the estate. PD Rex quickly caught a whiff of the suspect and before long found him hiding behind bins in a local residents back garden.

"Determined not to return to prison the male resisted PD Rex, never one to shy away, he quickly detained the suspect taking the fight out of him in no time.

"The suspect was arrested and brought back to the hospital for treatment before being sent back behind bars."

They added: "If it was not for Rex's sharp nose and specialist skills this male would otherwise not have been located so quickly."

Questions were raised on Monday as to how the prisoner had managed to escape in the first place.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said an investigation will take place.

In March 2009, Kennedy, who was aged 31 at the time, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life for the killing of a school teacher. He was ordered to serve a minimum 14 years.

Michael McGinnis, a former Royal Navy sailor who once taught English children in Korea, was found lying at the bottom of concrete steps at Blackburn Path in Limavady in 2007 suffering multiple injuries.

The court heard that Kennedy, from Portrush, attacked him to steal his phone in order to sell it for money to buy alcohol.

Trial judge Mr Justice Weir said at the time that Kennedy posed a "high risk of harm" to the public.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said the prison service needed to be "more explicit" in explaining how the escape was allowed to happen.

The Department of Justice said it would not comment on individual prisoners.

There are currently six people on the prison service's wanted list after escaping custody, including one man convicted of a brutal murder in 1999. Paul James Johnston has been on the run since April. The 35-year-old, along with his brother, was convicted of the murder of west Belfast man Sean May (58).

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