Missing murder convict mistakenly taken off public wanted persons list by Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DoJ) mistakenly removed an on-the-run murderer from its public wanted list, it has emerged.

Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 7:00 am
Thomas McCabe
Thomas McCabe

The blunder was noticed by the News Letter, but even after being contacted about it the DoJ took at least three days to add him to the list again.

DUP MP Gavin Robinson (who has spoken to the News Letter a number of times in the past about the authorities losing track of convicts or suspects) said that the public should expect an “energy and enthusiasm” from authorities when it comes to trying to trace such missing men.

The missing man is Thomas Lawrence McCabe, 55.

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McCabe was an alcoholic from Northern Ireland who had moved to England.

He pleaded guilty in 1990 to murdering an 18-year-old relative of his girlfriend in a fit of jealousy while drunk, and got a life sentence.

He had taken part in a pre-release scheme from around the turn of the millennium onwards, but disappeared a number of times whilst on it.

In fact, between 1990 and 2002 he had been unlawfully at large four times.

The latest example involves him vanishing on January 23, 2018, having had his licence revoked.

There are currently eight prisoners listed as being “unlawfully at large” by the DoJ; some have been missing since as far back as 2002.

What makes McCabe’s removal from the list particularly odd was that a renewed public appeal for information had been issued about him earlier on this summer.

The News Letter contacted the DoJ about him late last Tuesday night, assuming that he had been taken off the list because he had been recaptured.

It turned out he hadn’t, and his name was removed due to “an administrative oversight”.

Even so, McCabe’s name and details had still not been added to the list by the end of Friday (although someone has since updated it since then).

Gavin Robinson, DUP East Belfast MP, said: “I think we the public should expect that if somebody has gone missing, if they are evading custody and evading justice, then there should be an energy and enthusiasm behind the public messaging in making sure that individual is returned to the custodial system.

“The idea somebody’s name just drops off the website, or the department appears to have a lack of interest, is not what’d be in keeping with an effective and efficient justice system.

“If he’s at large and he poses a danger to the public, then the public should be encouraged to provide any information to see his swift return.”

The latest addition to the DoJ’s wanted persons list is a Paul McQuade, 35, who has a rap sheet with no fewer than 24 convictions on it, ranging from ABH and possessing an offensive weapon to multiple motoring offences.

He was on temporary release from Magilligan, but disappeared on July 3.


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