Escapee faces assault charges in the North

A garda killer who escaped from an open prison faces multiple charges in Derry, it has emerged.

Martin McDermott has been charged with criminal damage, three counts of assault on police and resisting arrest, and disorderly behaviour.

The PSNI said the North’s Public Prosecution Service would review the charges.

McDermott, who killed a garda in a high-speed car chase, had been expected to be transferred to the Republic.

Meanwhile, a probe has been launched into why and who authorised his transfer to an open prison, the Taoiseach said yesterday.

The inmate should not have been held in Loughan House, Enda Kenny said.

McDermott, only recently sentenced to seven years for the 2009 manslaughter of Garda Gary McLoughlin, escaped from the Cavan facility and fled over the border. He had started his sentence at the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise.

Garda McLoughlin died and another garda was seriously injured when a car driven by McDermott — who had more than 90 previous convictions — rammed into their patrol car at Burt, Co Donegal, in Dec 2009.

“This should not have happened,” Mr Kenny said, adding that he has asked Alan Shatter, the justice minister, to find out under what exact circumstances the transfer to the facility was authorised.

He was responding to a demand by Garda Representative Association president Damien McCarthy for a full inquiry.

The escaped garda killer was in custody last night after he was arrested in Derry while visiting his girlfriend.

McDermott, aged 26, resisted arrest and grappled with PSNI officers as they apprehended him at 11.15am in Shantallow. He was taken to a police station in Derry ahead of his repatriation over the border.

Gardaí had informed the PSNI of McDermott’s escape from the low-level security Loughan House prison on Thursday, sparking a manhunt on both sides of the border.

The PSNI has been monitoring the house in Derry where his girlfriend lives since he escaped.

Mr McCarthy, reflecting the fury of rank and file gardaí, called for legislation that would allow for greater protections for gardaí in the line of duty.

He said: “The penalty for killing a garda who is doing their duty must be higher than that handed down when a civilian pedestrian or motorist is killed.”

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Dara Calleary said: “It is intolerable that a person convicted of killing a garda would be detained in a low-security prison and the reports that there is no confirmation on what time he escaped is extraordinary.

“We need to know how exactly Martin McDermott escaped from Loughan House; why this prisoner, convicted of such a serious offence, was not detained in a more controlled environment and how many more people convicted of serious offences are held in low-security or open prisons?”


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