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Murderer fearful of prison return if he surrenders to NI authorities

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Killer: Newry man Thomas McCabe was convicted of murder in 1990

Killer: Newry man Thomas McCabe was convicted of murder in 1990

Killer: Newry man Thomas McCabe was convicted of murder in 1990

A Newry man convicted of the murder of a teenager in England in 1990 who was on the run in the Irish Republic for two years has said he wants to stay out of the general prison population in Northern Ireland if he is surrendered to the authorities there, the High Court in Dublin heard yesterday.

Thomas McCabe (56) was convicted in October 1990 of the murder of 16-year-old Richard Hunt in London and was freed on licence in Northern Ireland after completing his sentence.

Mr Hunt - a cousin of McCabe's then girlfriend - was attacked with a scaffolding pole by McCabe.

McCabe had come home around 10.30pm in a drunken state to find Mr Hunt there with his girlfriend. However, Mr Hunt was a cousin of McCabe's girlfriend and had only been around to help out with decorating.

McCabe had been sentenced to life by a London court for the murder but was sent back to his native Northern Ireland to serve out his sentence.

He was released from Maghaberry Prison in Lisburn on licence but had it revoked by the authorities in Northern Ireland in January 2018 after a number of breaches.

McCabe was arrested by gardai in August of this year on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by the PSNI.

Barrister Mr Kieran Kelly BL said that his client, McCabe, had indicated his willingness to be surrendered to the PSNI but he was seeking assurances that he could be kept away from the general prison population, out of fear for his safety.

Mr Justice Paul Burns asked Mr Kelly if his client felt that he "might be a victim of a gang war in prison".

Mr Kelly said that there had been an incident which was cause for concern for McCabe, who had been living in the South, and that his client might be implicated in this.

Mr Justice Burns said that there was already an obligation on authorities in Northern Ireland regarding McCabe's safety while in custody.

Mr Kelly said that he had asked the State solicitor to write to authorities in Northern Ireland so that his client might "be kept apart from the mainstream prison population".

Mr Justice Burns said that the authorities in Northern Ireland were "not being given much to go on". He said that his permission was not needed for counsel to correspond with prison authorities in Northern Ireland.

Ms Joanne Williams BL, for the State, said that she was seeking an explicit statement of consent to McCabe's surrender to authorities in Northern Ireland, and that any reply from them should not be used to construct an objection to surrender.

Mr Kelly said that there may be an agreement to surrender in two weeks' time.

Mr Justice Burns said that he would adjourn the matter to October 28.

McCabe has connections to Lisburn, Newry, Newtownabbey and Dublin, absconded from the jurisdiction two years ago and the PSNI had put up a reward for information on his whereabouts.

Belfast Telegraph