Killer still on the loose, six weeks after he disappeared while on licence

Thomas Lawrence McCabe remains uncaptured, more than a month after the News Letter reported on the disappearance of him and three other criminals
Thomas Lawrence McCabe remains uncaptured, more than a month after the News Letter reported on the disappearance of him and three other criminals

Two criminals – including a convicted killer – are still at large over a month after vanishing from the authorities’ radar.

The whereabouts of murderer Thomas Lawrence McCabe and fraudster Wesley Brennan both remain unknown after they went unlawfully at large in January.

How the News Letter initially reported the story on February 2

How the News Letter initially reported the story on February 2

Their disappearance was part of a bizarre spate which saw four men go missing within little over a fortnight.

The fact that half of them have now been found has been welcomed by DUP justice spokesman Gavin Robinson MP.

But the police hunt for the other two continues.

It all began on January 12, when Maghaberry prisoner Brennan, a 31-year-old fraudster, went missing after being granted leave.

Then on January 19, two convicted murderers who had both been held at Maghaberry disappeared – McCabe, 53, and Samuel McKinley, 56.

It is understood they were both on licence. Both have absconded previously.

Finally, the last to vanish was Sean Tate, on January 27.

The 41-year-old aggravated burglar had been a prisoner in Magilligan, and had been granted compassionate temporary release.

Their disappearances were not publicised by the authorities, and the matter only came to public attention when the News Letter ran it on its front page on February 2.

The paper has now learned that both McKinley and Tate were located three days after that article was published.

They were found respectively in Newtownards and on Belfast’s Great Victoria Street – one of the main streets in the city centre.

Police have asked for anyone with information about McCabe and Brennan to call them on 101, adding that they “will pursue all potential lines of inquiry and utilise all means at our disposal as required, guided by the available evidence”.

The Department for Justice said simply that it does not comment on individual cases.

It remains unclear exactly how all of them disappeared.

Mr Robinson, DUP MP for East Belfast, said: “I’m delighted the News Letter publicity and wider public knowledge led to the return of two dangerous abscondees.

“With two others at large, there is a clear onus on NI Prison Service and PSNI to be open and honest with the public; and seek their help.”