ON THE RUN |
Killer who sparked manhunt while on five-day Dublin bender ‘dealing drugs from hostel’
Stephen McParland (54) went on a ‘five-day bender’ with fellow convicted murderer Alison McDonagh (49) last weekend
Yesterday at 14:35
A laughing killer who sparked a cross-border police manhunt when he went on the run while on a prison pre-release scheme is suspected of dealing drugs to other criminals.
Stephen McParland (54) fled the Thompson House hostel in north Belfast last weekend and boarded a train to Dublin with fellow convicted murderer Alison McDonagh (49).
According to jail sources, the pair went on a “five-day bender” in the Irish capital before crossing the border into Newry, where they were arrested by the PSNI.
Both are now back behind bars, but security insiders are questioning why they were on pre-release in the first place.
While staying at Thompson House, 54-year-old McParland is suspected of selling drugs to other criminals, while McDonagh has previous form for fleeing pre-release schemes.
“It is well known that McParland was suspected of involvement in the sale of drugs while at Thompson House,” a source said.
“There is a flat in Sandy Row he would have visited to get drugs.
“McParland could have been recalled to jail on the basis of this intelligence long before he went on the run.”
Sources believe that McParland and McDonagh, despite her being held at Hydebank women’s prison, were in a relationship and that their decision to escape to Dublin was pre-meditated.
“They had been planning to flee for weeks. That’s why they showed up at Lanyon train station with a trolley filled with bags of clothes,” added the insider.
“When the drugs and drink wore off and the money ran out, reality kicked in, so they went to Newry to be arrested.
“What is interesting is they haven’t been charged with any crime, although it’ll be a long time before they go back on pre-release.”
McParland was jailed for life in 1997 for the murder of east Belfast man Gary Alexander McKimm following a row over £20.
A court was told he laughed and shouted “Die, die, die, you b*****d” while he kicked his helpless victim.
Imposing a minimum 16-year tariff, former lord chief justice Sir Brian Kerr described the attack as “prolonged and merciless”, saying: “We have been quite unable to detect evidence of genuine remorse on his [McParland’s] part, or any real recognition of the enormity of his crime.”
McDonagh fled with McParland after being freed from Hydebank women’s prison for three hours to go shopping in Belfast.
She was originally jailed for a minimum of 12 years in 2006 for the murder of drinking friend George McDowell at a flat in the Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey.
Her trial heard how she arranged for her victim, who she had only known for a week, to stay at the property. She later ordered him to leave, stabbing the 47-year-old in the neck when a row broke out.
At the time of her conviction, McDonagh was known as Alison Michelle Martin.
The latest incident is the third time she has gone on the run, having fled two previous pre-release schemes in 2016 and 2017.