Fears as three murderers living in the same hostel
Three killers considered among Northern Ireland’s most dangerous prisoners are back walking the streets in preparation for being fully released later this year.
Convicted murderers Davy Cummins, Kenny Douglas and John Smith are living in the same Belfast hostel, having moved there from the high-security Maghaberry jail last month.
But insiders have questioned the wisdom of placing the trio on phased release at the same time in the same premises as each has been thrown off earlier schemes on multiple occasions for repeated rule-breaking.
A source said: “It’s a really risky strategy to put all three in the same accommodation as each inmate is considered dangerous. The fear is that they will bring out the worst in each other.”
However, a Prison Service spokesman defended the decision, saying: “Preparing people for release is a vital part of rehabilitation as it reduces their risk of re-offending, which helps to make the community safer.”
In 2015 Davy Cummins, who was jailed for life for the 2000 murder of Guy Harper outside a Portrush nightclub, was caught sneaking drugs back into Maghaberry Prison after a period of home leave.
The 42-year-old thug ended up pleading guilty to possessing cannabis and 1,500 prescription pills, with a judge adding a further 10 months on to his sentence.
Kenny Douglas, who was convicted of the 1995 murder of 72-year-old Jackie Campbell in east Belfast, has an even worse pre-release record.
He was freed on licence in 2009, only to be returned to jail a year later after going on a drugs binge in Portrush.
Douglas got out for a second time in 2012, this time lasting 10 months before being thrown back behind bars for attacking his girlfriend, stealing from her elderly relative and targeting another pensioner during a violent robbery.
The 47-year-old found himself in trouble again in Maghaberry Prison in 2019 for sending a card containing bodily fluids to a girlfriend.
Knife killer John Smith (44) is another inmate considered a repeated pre-release rule breaker, having been returned to prison on multiple occasions.
The murderer, who shouted “f*** the Shankill Butchers, up the Antrim butchers” after inflicting fatal stab wounds on Leslie Davidson (19) in 1999, was previously thrown out of the Belfast hostel he now calls home.
Also currently living in the same complex is double killer and sex offender Benny Wiggins (51).
The born-again Christian preacher had to recently leave his Portadown home and move back into supervised accommodation after being accused of behaving inappropriately towards a woman.
Our source added: “All of these guys are really dangerous. They have served more than 100 years in prison between them for five murders.
“It’s really concerning that they are all living together, especially in a community which has no clue about their convictions or the potential threat that they pose.”
In response, the Prison Service said: “Those people approaching the end of their sentence are often tested prior to release back into the community.
“Individuals progress by fully engaging in a number of tests which challenge and support them to make positive change in their lives around health, thinking patterns and attitudes towards their offending behaviour.
“Those involved can be challenging individuals, and release decisions and pre-testing are complex and finely balanced.
“The reality is that some individuals will fail this test and are returned to prison, while others will progress back into the community.”