Northern Ireland

Convicted killer ‘released for brother’s birthday party’ is jailed for being unlawfully at large

The case against Lesley Stock has been listed for a preliminary inquiry at Belfast Magistrates Court in December

A convicted killer extradited back to the north from the Republic has been handed a nine month jail sentence for being unlawfully at large.

Jailing James Meehan (54) at Craigavon Crown Court, Judge Patrick Lynch KC said while he had “little option” but to plead guilty, the offence had to be marked with a jail sentence because he had breached the trust prison authorities had placed in him.

Prosecuting counsel Joseph Murphy told the court how Meehan had been granted temporary release to attend a birthday party for his brother last October 9 but failed to return to custody and was deemed unlawfully at large.

In 2009 Meehan, whose address has been given as c/o HMP Maghaberry, was handed a life sentence with an order to serve a minimum of 14 years in jail for the murder of Derry man Jim McFadden.

The court heard that Meehan was found to be living in the Republic and during legal proceedings in Dublin High Court, Meehan’s lawyers unsuccessfully applied for a stay on extradition proceedings, arguing that he had been released on his lifelong licence rather than a temporary release.

In Craigavon court on Monday, defence counsel Seamus Lannon conceded that Dublin High Court “wasn’t too sympathetic” but he highlighted that Meehan had been on bail in the south and he had not committed any further offences, something which was “to his credit”.

Having heard that Meehan is due to have a hearing before the Parole Commissioners in the coming months, Judge Lynch warned him this offence “will hardly assist you” in their assessment.