Northern Ireland

Convicted killers at large from Maghaberry Prison

Thomas Lawrence McCabe and Samuel McKinley Image copyright Department of Justice
Image caption Thomas Lawrence McCabe (left) and Samuel McKinley were both declared "unlawfully at large" on 19 January

Two convicted murderers are on the run after going missing from prison.

Thomas Lawrence McCabe and Samuel McKinley were both declared "unlawfully at large" from Maghaberry Prison on 19 January, the News Letter has reported.

The pair were declared at large on the Department of Justice (DoJ)'s website.

The PSNI has confirmed that an "active wanted person investigation is under way" but did not specify the names of those they were searching for.

McKinley, formerly from Southampton, is serving a life sentence for murder and previously absconded in 2014 when he did not return from a pre-release work scheme.

No public appeals

Both McCabe, 53, and McKinley, 56, are listed individually in the "wanted persons" section of the DoJ website.

Each listing says the men have had their licences revoked.

The police have issued an appeal for information on "these wanted persons" and said they "take seriously the public's concern about prisoners being unlawfully at large".

Image caption Samuel McKinley previously absconded from Maghaberry Prison in 2014

No public appeals had been issued about their whereabouts, but the PSNI said that "in some cases issuing a media appeal would be counter-productive to the investigation".

It said the option to make a media appeal "will be kept under review" and that "there are a range of options which can be deployed in a missing person investigation".

Life sentence

The Department of Justice said that when a prisoner is unlawfully at large then it informs the PSNI and posts the information the DoJ website.

"The PSNI will lead the response in respect of informing and protecting the public, and returning the individual to custody.

"Each prisoner granted temporary release is robustly risk assessed.

"The level of abuse of the temporary release schemes is very small, the vast majority of prisoners abide by their release conditions.

"This was evident at Christmas when over 80 prisoners were granted home leave and all returned to custody."

Two other prisoners who did not return to Maghaberry prison since the beginning of January are also being sought by authorities.

Wesley Brennan, 31, who was convicted of 11 counts of theft among other charges, was declared unlawfully at large on 12 January after failing to return to prison from home leave.

Sean Tate, 41, who is serving a sentence for robbery, aggravated burglary and other offences, was declared unlawfully at large on 27 January after being given compassionate temporary release.

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