MP: Authorities must explain how convicted Michael McIlveen killer went on the run

Christopher Kerr. Photo supllied by PSNI
Christopher Kerr. Photo supllied by PSNI

The authorities must explain how a dangerous murderer was allowed to escape while on accompanied temporary release from prison yesterday, a DUP MP has said.

Christopher Kerr, a 32-year-old who is serving a sentence for the brutal 2006 murder of Michael McIlveen in Ballymena, was allowed to abscond in Belfast city centre.

North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley

North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley

While he was later arrested in what police described as “the Antrim area”, DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr believes both police and the prison service will have to provide “a full report” on how it happened.

It is the third time this year a murderer has been allowed to escape custody. On January 19, two convicted murderers who had both been held at Maghaberry disappeared - 53-year-old Thomas Lawrence McCabe and 56-year-old Samuel McKinley.

McKinley was arrested in February, while McCabe was still listed as “unlawfully at large” on the Department of Justice website last night

Before he was recaptured, police had advised the public not to approach Kerr, who they described as “dangerous”.

DUP MP Ian Paisley said the murder Kerr was convicted of was “a very notorious case” in Ballymena.

Michael McIlveen died after being beaten and kicked in an alleyway in 2006.

A Catholic schoolboy, he passed away in hospital after he was chased and attacked by a group of Protestant youths in the town on May 6.

Kerr, who was aged 26 at the time of his conviction, was one of four men sentenced for the killing.

“The consequences of that (murder) are still being dealt with,” Mr Paisley said.

Regarding the escape from custody, the North Antrim MP added: “The police and the prison service will have to give a full explanation, because the public will want to be reassured.

“In the hundreds of these cases that take place every single day, when prisoners are moved around and escorted, we never hear anything about them because it happens without incident.”

He continued: “But with these very dangerous prisoners there is an issue that needs to be addressed, and certainly I think the police and the prison service will need to give a full explanation as to what has happened.”

Police announced at 8.15pm Kerr was missing, and at 9pm said he had been found.

Last night, a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Prison Service said: “The Prison Service will investigate the circumstances of today’s absconding from accompanied temporary release.”