Belfast Telegraph

Recaptured remand prisoner fled court 'to be with his family at Christmas'

By Donna Deeney

A recaptured remand prisoner said he fled police custody because he wanted to spend Christmas with his family.

Six days after fleeing the grounds of Londonderry Courthouse, Dean Beattie was caught yesterday and placed back under arrest.

The 22-year-old, from Glenowen Park in Derry, was arrested at around 4am yesterday at a house in the Creggan area of the city.

The runaway took to social media to explain why he bolted, saying he wanted to be with his family for the Christmas festivities.

On his Facebook page, Beattie asked people to "stop slabbering about me" before adding: "The reason for running from court was to spend time with my family at Christmas for the first time in seven years".

Beattie had been due in the dock to face charges including stealing Christmas presents from a couple, assaulting them, possessing a firearm and a knife and robbing the couple of £100 and two mobile phones.

The offences are alleged to have occurred at the couple's Northland Road flat in Derry on December 12.

The ease with which he was able to escape from a police vehicle bringing him from Strand Road police station and scale two security fences - one 10 feet high, the other six feet - has prompted calls for the Chief Constable to review procedures to include handcuffing prisoners.

Among those who voiced surprise that a prisoner facing serious charges was not handcuffed as a matter of course when attending court was the DUP's spokesman on policing, Gregory Campbell.

Mr Campbell said that he hoped the next time that Beattie was being brought to court, it would be in a more secure manner.

He said: "There must be an urgent review of the way prisoners are transported from police stations to courthouses, specifically in this instance to Bishop Street Court House.

"This man faced a number of serious charges which I would have thought would have merited him being handcuffed at least.

"Hopefully the next time he is being brought to court, sufficient measures will have been taken to ensure he reaches the dock and isn't allowed to abscond again."

Belfast Telegraph


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