Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland sword killer Henry back behind bars but only after Dublin court releases fugitive during manhunt

By Tom Tuite and David Young

Northern Ireland politicians expressed incredulity that fugitive murderer Stephen Henry (41) was released by a Dublin court on to the streets of the city, despite being the focus of a PSNI manhunt.

Henry (41) had been on the run for a week from Magilligan, where he had been serving a life sentence for the savage murder of John Cooke with a Samurai-style sword in 2004.

He did not return to prison on Monday after he was granted a day-release pass to visit his family. He has since been recaptured.

The PSNI launched a manhunt, and appealed for information into the whereabouts of the 5ft 10in man. However, yesterday the killer turned up in Dublin where he was arrested after being thrown out of a city centre hostel and getting mugged.

Barely able to keep his eyes open, he was brought before Dublin District Court yesterday and freed after being fined €75 (£66) for a public order offence that does not carry a jail sentence.

A European Arrest Warrant had not yet been issued and could take a week, the court was told.

Henry was later arrested by the PSNI in the Waringstown, Co Armagh.

Senior DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he was "appalled" by the actions of the Dublin court, while UUP security spokesman Doug Beattie MLA said the situation "beggars belief".

Sir Jeffrey told the Belfast Telegraph: "I am absolutely appalled that not only has this man evaded the authorities in Northern Ireland, but it appears now that the Irish authorities have failed to detain him in custody pending the arrival of an arrest warrant from Northern Ireland.

"This man is potentially a danger to the public, and if something had gone wrong here, serious questions would have to be asked of the authorities on both sides of the border."

Ulster Unionist Party spokesman Doug Beattie said: "This is genuinely shocking news on a number of levels. Firstly, it does not say much for the extent of north/south co-operation on justice when an on-the-run killer who has absconded from a Northern Ireland prison is allowed to walk out of a Dublin court after paying a fine for a drunk and disorderly charge.

"Secondly, the court is displaying a very cavalier attitude to public safety in the Republic by releasing someone like this on to the streets."

The attack on father-of-two John Cooke (33) took place in a house in Lisburn in May 2004.

Henry had "behaved like a savage" who had attacked Mr Cooke "as he begged for his life", the trial judge had said.

Belfast Telegraph

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