Prisoner remained at large for 121 days

By Brendan Grehan

A PRISONER who escaped while being escorted from Cloverhill District Court to Wheatfield Prison was sentenced to nine months jail with the last four months suspended by Blanchardstown District Court.

Stephen Collins (29) escaped by slipping his hands out of his handcuffs. He remained free for 121 days until he was arrested in March 2019, Judge John Hughes heard.

blanchardstown courthouse

Blanchardstown District Court

Judge Hughes made the nine-month sentence consecutive on the five-year sentence that Collins is currently serving.

Collins, with an address at Slievenamon Road, Drimnagh, pleaded guilty to escaping from lawful custody at Wheatfield place of detention , Clondalkin, on November 9, 2018

Presenting Sergeant Walter Sweeney told the court that at 10.30am on Friday, November 9, 2018, Collins was being escorted from Cloverhill Court to Wheatfield Prison by two prison officers.

Sgt Sweeney said Collins slipped his hands off his handcuffs and then climbed over a fence in the car park before making his escape.

He said Collins remained at large for 121 days before being arrested in March 2019.

Judge Hughes said: “So he slipped his hands out of handcuffs and climbed over a fence. That is no mean feat.”

Sgt Sweeney said Collins had 89 previous convictions.

At Dublin Circuit Court on May 10, 2018, he had been sentenced to five years for endangerment.

Collins’ solicitor, Brian Coveney, said his client had pleaded guilty saving the two prison officers from coming to court to give evidence.

He said no violence or threats had been used by Collins in the incident.

Mr Coveney added: “He saw an opportunity. He took it. He remained at large for 121 days.”

He said Collins is currently serving a five-year sentence.

Mr Coveney said Collins was doing well in prison and is free from drugs.

Judge Hughes asked if Doyle had handed himself in.

Sgt Sweeney said: “On March 10, 2019, he got into a conflagration with gardai and was arrested.”

Mr Coveney said: “My instructions are that my client and his partner had a falling out. She called the Gardai and he was arrested.”

Judge Hughes asked if Collins did “anything constructive” during the 121 days.

Mr Coveney said his client had been living with his partner for the period.

In response to the judge, Mr Coveney said his client had not completed a course of further education but was attending school in jail.

Judge Hughes asked Collins if he had ever worked.

Collins replied: “No”.

Mr Coveney said his client had pleaded guilty at the earliest possible opportunity.

Judge Hughes noted that the offence dated back to last year.

Mr Coveney said he had only received disclosure in the case on October 17 last.

A Prison Officer told Judge Hughes that Collins is due for release in December 2023.

Judge Hughes noted that Collins had used no violence or threats in his escape.

He added: “It is not a situation where he was being brought to hospital and he threatened prison officers.”

He also noted that Collins had not come to Garda attention during the 121 days he was at large.

He sentenced Collins to nine months jail consecutive on the five-year sentence he is currently serving but suspended the last four months for 12 months on condition that Collins attends a drug treatment course organised by the Probation Service and that he attends an education course also organised by the Probation Service.

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