On-the-run prisoner caught for driving with no insurance


A Belfast man stopped by police for no insurance was found to be an on-the-run prisoner with 299 previous convictions, a court has heard.

James Daniel Carlin had been allowed out on home leave from Maghaberry Prison in February 2015 while serving a 21-month sentence for burglary, theft of a vehicle, driving while disqualified, having no insurance and receiving stolen goods.

The Prison Service had circulated details of the 37-year-old, of John Street, Town Parks, including a number of scars he had along with several tattoos.

Belfast Crown Court heard that it wasn’t until 13 months later that Carlin was eventually tracked down by police on patrol.

Prosecuting lawyer Stephen McCourt told Judge Gordon Kerr QC: “On March 21, 2016 at 3.50pm, police stopped a car for no insurance.

“The driver of the car, who is this defendant, gave false details to police. He gave police the details of another person and invited police to go that address where he would verify the insurance details.

“However, en route he admitted that he was Mr Carlin.’’

Mr McCourt said that Carlin was then arrested and police conducted checks on him.

“It was then discovered that he had absconded from Maghaberry Prison while on home leave and had absconded for a period of 13 months.’’

The judge heard that Carlin had 299 previous convictions, 55 of which were for driving while disqualified.

“He has a previous conviction for being unlawfully at large and was caught driving whilst on home leave.

“The sentence he was serving was one of one year and nine months in custody and one year and nine months on licence.’’

A probation report had said Carlin was a “low risk of reoffending”.

But Judge Kerr said: “I am not satisfied about his future behaviour. The proper way to deal with this case is to defer sentence for six months.”

The judge warned Carlin that if he did not receive a positive report by September this year or if he committed any further offences, “you will be going to prison immediately”.

Carlin was released on continuing bail.