Northern Ireland

Murder suspect Michael Lawrence Smith freed by mistake

Michael Lawrence Smith Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Michael Smith was last seen in the Belfast area on Tuesday afternoon

A "dangerous" murder suspect is on the run after being released from a Northern Ireland prison by mistake.

Michael Lawrence Smith, 38, was last seen in the Finaghy area of Belfast at 12:30 GMT on Tuesday and has not returned to Maghaberry Prison.

The police said he had been "released erroneously" by the prison service and had failed to return.

Mr Smith, who is on remand for murder, had previously applied for bail, but been refused.

Det Supt Kevin Geddes said Mr Smith had "an extensive history of violence" and urged the public not to approach him.

"I would ask Mr Smith to hand himself in to the authorities without any further delay and ask anyone who knows of his current whereabouts or who has any information to contact police on 999," he said.

In a further video message released on social media, Det Supt Geddes addressed Mr Smith's family and friends, urging them to persuade him to give himself up or contact the police with his whereabouts.

He also warned the public that Mr Smith was "dangerous".

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Prison Service said Mr Smith's "erroneous release" was being investigated.

He stands charged with the murder of Stephen Carson, who was shot dead in his Belfast home in front of his partner and nine-year-old son in February 2016.

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