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Garda-killer Pearse McAuley lying low in Irish estate after prison release

‘He’s a free man now and despite the media coverage, he still has friends and relatives in Strabane who want to see him right’
Pearse McAuley leaves prison

Pearse McAuley leaves prison

Regency gunman Kevin Murray

Regency gunman Kevin Murray©

The late Jerry McCabe

The late Jerry McCabe

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

CONVICTED garda-killer Pearse McAuley is understood to have returned to his native Strabane after being released from prison recently and is said to be lying low in the Ballycolman estate – a Republican stronghold in the town.

The estate is also the last place that Regency Hotel gunman Kevin ‘Flatcap’ Murray was photographed by the Sunday World prior to his death in August of 2017.

A source told the Sunday World: “Word in the area is that McAuley is staying with friends in the Ballycolman estate until he gets himself sorted.

“It’s a staunchly Republican area, where the INLA have previously had a strong presence, and it will give him a chance to get back on his feet.

“He’s a free man now and despite the media coverage, he still has friends and relatives in Strabane who want to see him right.”

Regency gunman Kevin Murray

Regency gunman Kevin Murray©

It was in the same estate five years ago that the Sunday World took the final pictures of Kevin ‘Flatcap’ Murray prior to his death.

We pictured the formerly respected Provo in a mobility scooter a month before his death looking pale and in ill health.

Despite a European Arrest Warrant being sought to get him over the border on charges connected to the Regency Hotel murder of David Byrne, a judge later ruled the alleged killer with dissident Republican links was too ill to stand trial.

Three months before his death, it was confirmed that Murray was bed-ridden, immobile and being fed via a tube and the battle to extradite him ended.

Judge Patricia Smyth said at Belfast Recorder’s Court that the “only appropriate course I can take is to discharge the requested person.”

The Sunday World recently pictured Pearse McAuley as he was released from Castlerea Prison after serving an eight-year sentence for a savage attack on his ex-wife Pauline Tully.

He stabbed Ms Tully, now a Sinn Féin TD, 13 times in 2014.

McAuley had previously served a sentence for killing Det Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996.

McAuley and Tully met in the prison in Castlerea while she was visiting another republican prisoner and were married in 2003.

He walked from the Co. Roscommon lock-up sporting a baseball cap, sunglasses while wearing a Covid mask to hide his face.

The driver of a northern-reg white SUV, who also kept his face covered, helped him place his two bags in the boot of the car before driving away.

It was in stark contrast to his 2009 release which was greeted with a public statement and apology by then Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

McAuley and fellow gang member Kevin Walsh were taken from the prison gates in a van driven by then Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris to meet their families nearby.

The late Jerry McCabe

The late Jerry McCabe

Within five years of his release his wife Pauline Tully had to seek a protection order after he became violent towards her.

Then on Christmas Eve that year he subjected her to a two-and-a-half hour ordeal in which he beat and stabbed her at her Co. Cavan home.

At the 2015 trial, it was heard how the couple had separated the previous February and he was living in an apartment in Ballyconnell away from the family home

On the morning of the attack he made arrangements with his wife to meet their children at her home.

However, he had turned up drunk two hours early unannounced and attacked her.

He repeatedly knifed his estranged wife as she lay on the kitchen floor in a pool of her blood during the prolonged attack.

She eventually crawled away and alerted a neighbour who barely recognised her at first because of her injuries.

The neighbour went to brother Tommy’s home and alerted him who then found McAuley, with a boulder in his hands and was threatening the car into which Ms Tully had locked herself.

McAuley was knocked out by her brother.

During the trial Ms Tully told how McAuley had threatened to kill her and she would be living in fear of her life for the rest of her life.

“My youngest son has said he looked through the glass panel and witnessed his father putting the knife into me. Children should never have seen such things.”

In her victim impact statement, she said: “I am in absolute fear of him and fear that someday he will make another attempt on my life. I do not ever expect to enjoy a peaceful mind, but will live a life haunted by what happened to me.”

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