On the run killer Stephen Henry on the loose in Dublin after release following drunk arrest
PSNI officers 'actively working to have him returned'
Fugitive murderer Stephen Henry, who brutally killed a man with a Samurai sword, was on the loose in Dublin tonight, after he was released with a fine following his drunk arrest.
Killer Stephen Henry, 41, from Belfast who went on the run after failing to return to Magilligan Prison in the North earlier this week, was arrested drunk in Dublin Friday morning after being thrown out of a city-centre hostel and getting mugged.
Barely able to keep his eyes open, he was brought before to Dublin District Court this evening and let go after being fined €75 for a public order offence that does not carry a jail sentence.
A European Arrest Warrant had not been issued yet and could take a week, the court was told.
Henry, who used a Samurai-style sword in the murder of an acquaintance in 2004, did not return to prison on Monday after he was granted a day-release pass to visit his family. The PSNI launched a manhunt and appealed for information into the whereabouts of the 5ft 10 in murderer.
Henry was jailed for murdering father-of-two John Cooke in Lisburn. After failing to return to prison on Monday the PSNI issued a statement stating he may be in either the Craigavon or Belfast area.
However, he crossed the border on Tuesday and was picked up by gardai in Dublin today.
He was arrested at Merrion Road, Dublin 4, in city’s south side at 8.50am on a charge under the Public Order Act for being intoxicated to an extent he might endanger himself or any other person in his vicinity. The offence can result in a fine of about €130 but no jail sentence.
Henry, who has tattoos on both upper arms and scars on his forehead and left ear, was brought before Judge Conal Gibbons at a late sitting of Dublin District Court.
Dressed in a black tracksuit, green and white shirt, and brown shoes, Henry, with two cuts on his forehead, remained silent during his hearing.
Garda David Carty told the court that Henry, who is currently of no fixed abode, had been brought to Irishtown Garda station and made “no reply when charged”.
He objected to bail, however, the judge pointed out that the charge did not carry a penal sanction just a fine and the High Court would not be pleased if he refused.
There was no charge before the court for being unlawfully at large and he also said that being homeless was not a reason for refusal of bail.
Defence solicitor Tracy Horan said she had voiced the same concerns and she agreed with the judge. She also said she thought it would take at least a week for a European Arrest Warrant to be issued.
Garda Carty said contact would be made with Interpol.
Judge Gibbons held that he had to grant bail but because Henry had no ties to the jurisdiction he was going to require him to lodge €50 cash.
However, Ms Horan said that her client had been robbed overnight; his bag and phone were taken. He had a brother in Dublin but did not have his number. She argued that asking for a cash lodgement was tantamount to refusing bail.
Judge Gibbons said the lodgement would be required because Henry had no ties to the State.
This would have resulted in him being remanded in custody for until the bail money was lodged.
The defence solicitor took instructions from Henry at the side of the court and then told the judge her client was pleading guilty.
Garda Carty said he observed Henry walking on Merrion Road, he had no shoes on and was “completely unaware where he was”. He was arrested for his own safety.
The court was told he was serving a sentence for murder in the North but did not return after being given day-release. He has no previous convictions in the Republic.
Pleading for leniency, Ms Horan said Henry had been robbed and his phone was taken on Thursday night. He was intoxicated at the time and it was “a little bit a blur”, she said.
Judge Gibbons gave him a €75 fine which must be paid within one month.
Henry, from Mountpottinger Road, Belfast, was jailed for life at Craigavon Crown Court in 2006 after pleading guilty to murdering an acquaintance with a Samurai-style sword.
The attack on father-of-two John Cooke (33) took place in a house in Lisburn in May 2004.
Mr Cooke had been drinking and taking drugs with Henry before a row broke out.
Henry had “behaved like a savage” who had attacked Mr Cooke “as he begged for his life,” the trial judge had said.
A PSNI spokesman said: "Stephen Henry remains unlawfully at large from HMP Magilligan. PSNI is aware he is now outside of our jurisdiction and officers are actively working to have him returned."