Sunday Life

| 10.3°C Belfast

Killer and ex-prison nurse fled to Dublin



Paul James Johnston

Paul James Johnston

Paul James Johnston

A SHAMED ex-prison nurse who helped her convicted killer husband go on the run from jail is sweating over being caged herself.

Former model Kathryn 'Kathy' Johnston will find out on February 13 if she has to spend time on the wrong side of the bars when she is sentenced at Craigavon Crown Court.

The 55-year-old fled across the border with glue-sniffing murderer hubby Paul Johnston (37) when he was out on day release from Maghaberry Prison - her old place of work - in April 2017.

The odd couple hid out in the Dublin area for 15 days before he was taken into custody by gardai on foot of a European Arrest Warrant.

Paul Johnston was extradited back to Northern Ireland and pleaded guilty to being unlawfully at large last month. Wife Kathy confessed to aiding and abetting his escape at a sitting of Craigavon Crown Court last week.

She is now back living in Comber, Co Down, after spending a period on bail holed up in a dingy flat in the university area of Belfast.

Donaghadee-born Kathy, who sources say is smitten with her toy-boy husband 18 years her junior, has been warned that she could face jail when she is sentenced in two weeks time.

The pair met in Maghaberry Prison two decades ago when Paul Johnston was caged for 19 years for the murder of disabled west Belfast man Sean May.

High from sniffing glue he and older brother Stephen broke into their 58-year-old victim's home in the Moyard area and stabbed him 45 times before bludgeoning him with a wheel-brace. They then burned down vulnerable Sean's home in a bid to cover their tracks.

Paul Johnston was on the run from Hydebank Young Offenders Centre when he carried out the frenzied 1999 killing. Aged just 17 at the time he had already amassed 47 criminal convictions.


Paul James Johnston

Paul James Johnston

Paul James Johnston


But his disturbing background apparently did not bother Maghaberry Prison love-struck nurse Kathy McClelland, as she was known then, when she tied the knot with Johnston in a behind bars ceremony in 2008.

The best man at the unlikely ceremony was his killer older brother Stephen, who was caged for 21 years for the murder of Sean May.

By the time of the wedding an infatuated Kathy Johnston had quit her nurse job at Maghaberry and found work as a beautician avoiding any internal Prison Service probe into her "inappropriate relationship".

Since then she has remained steadfastly loyal to her husband including going on the run with him in 2017 when he enjoyed a period of temporary release.

Their decision to flee across the border baffled jail sources because Paul Johnston only had a few months left to serve before being eligible for parole.

One insider said: "He was out on day release and made a spur of the moment decision to abscond. They headed down south, but were eventually caught by the gardai after being on the run for a few weeks.

"The whole thing is mad, especially because he was only supposed to have a few months left of his sentence."

Top Videos