March 14, 2002
Prisoner’s cheeky bolt for freedom leaves gardaí behind — again
By Liam Heylin
A PRISONER who was brought from Cork Prison to Cork District Court yesterday on a charge of escaping from custody escaped from custody — for the third time.
It’s the kind of story that prompts newsreaders to say, “Sorry, I’ll read that again.”
Niall Fitzpatrick, of Ballinderry Park, Mayfield, was charged with escaping from custody after jumping from a garda van in Togher, Cork, last January.
After his capture a week later and his return to jail, Fitzpatrick, 33, came before Cork District Court yesterday. And he fled.
If you had blinked you would have missed his cheeky bolt for freedom.
Fitzpatrick was brought to courtroom number one, which was packed with gardaí, prison officers and people waiting for cases to be called. Fitzpatrick glanced at the public gallery, as prisoners often do to check if a friend or relative is there. He seemed relaxed.
Then suddenly, almost casually, he leapt on to the waist-high partition in front of him and ran towards Judge Uinsin MacGruairc. He slipped behind him and out into the judge’s chambers.
He ran to the carpark, where he scaled the eight-foot wall. Dozens of gardaí and prison officers chased him but Fitzpatrick, dressed in T-shirt and tracksuit pants, was too fast. It was reported he got into a getaway car at nearby George’s Quay.
Fitzpatrick served a sentence for escaping from Limerick Prison in the mid-1990s and gardaí describe him as dangerous. He is a convicted armed robber and is wanted on robbery charges. After his escape in January, Fitzpatrick was found in a house on the northside of the city.
Back in courtroom number one after the 11.30am drama, Judge MacGruairc appeared unfazed. The next case was called and later a bench warrant was formally issued for Fitzpatrick’s arrest