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Man wanted over Dornan murder was on run from prison

Forensic officers at the home of Jennifer Dornan in west Belfast. Picture by Ann McManus

A man wanted by the PSNI in connection with the murder of west Belfast mother-of-three Jennifer Dornan is convicted criminal Raymond O'Neill.

The 37-year-old was arrested by gardai last Friday after being on the run from prison in the Republic for a violent burglary.

He had been unlawfully at large from Mountjoy jail since April after failing to return from a period of pre-release parole.

O'Neill, who has almost 90 previous convictions, is believed to be the prime suspect in the brutal murder of the young mother who was found dead in the burnt-out remains of her home in the Hazel View area of Lagmore early on Sunday August 2.

Detectives believe the killer stabbed the 30-year-old to death with a 14-inch blade before setting fire to the upstairs of the property to destroy the evidence.

It is believed Ms Dornan, who had children aged eight, five and three, had known O'Neill socially and he was also friends with her partner Martin Smyth who is currently in prison facing robbery charges.

Police have confirmed that following the arrest of O'Neill - whose last known address was Summerhill Walk in Twinbrook - they are not seeking anyone else in relation to the murder.

It is understood officers had been liaising closely with An Garda Siochána prior to the arrest of O'Neill, who was identified early in the investigation as the main suspect from CCTV footage.

Originally from North Link in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast, he was arrested in Bundoran on Friday.

The PSNI have said they are looking at several options including seeking an extradition order to have O'Neill returned to Northern Ireland to be questioned.

In February he was extradited to the south and sentenced to three years for a creeper-style burglary during which a home owner was assaulted at a house in the Clos na Monach area of Carlingford, Co Louth in December 2010.

In January 2011 O'Neill was released on bail after lodging €3,000 in cash as a surety, but failed to return to stand trial.

He was arrested in Belfast in July 2013 and held in Maghaberry on foot of a European arrest warrant before being extradited.

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