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Hunt is on for convicted killer after man brutally stabbed in north Belfast attack

Cops have warned the public not to approach Robert ‘Robbie’ Flanagan who has been missing since a knife attack on Kinnaird Street

Robert 'Robbie' Flanagan

Robert 'Robbie' Flanagan

Richard Caldwell

Scene of Kinnaird Street stabbing

Sunday Life

A convicted killer is being hunted by police in connection with the brutal stabbing of a man in north Belfast.

Cops have warned the public not to approach Robert ‘Robbie’ Flanagan who has been missing since a horrific knife attack on Kinnaird Street.

A man is in a critical condition in hospital after being stabbed multiple times during the early hours of last Monday morning.

Detectives want to speak to Flanagan in connection with the vicious assault, but have so far been unable to locate him.

The 43-year-old served seven years of a life sentence for the 2004 manslaughter of Richard Caldwell (29) on the Antrim Road in Belfast.

The killing occurred just yards away from last week’s Kinnaird Street stabbing which Flanagan is being hunted for by police.

The thug knifed popular Richard eight times, slicing open his victim’s lungs and liver because he had ended a relationship with his younger sister Jennifer.

Richard Caldwell

Friends of the Caldwell family told how they always warned that Flanagan, who is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, would pose a danger to the public.

“One of the reasons why Flanagan was prosecuted for Richard’s manslaughter and not murder was because he was diagnosed as being a paranoid schizophrenic,” said the source.

“After he was sentenced the Caldwells warned that he should never be freed because of the threat he posed.

“Flanagan is now wanted by police in connection with another stabbing. It looks like what the Caldwells have been saying for years has come true.”

The man suspected of carrying out the Kinnaird Street stabbing is understood to have been laying in wait for his victim armed with a knife. The attack is thought to be linked to an earlier row between the men.

PSNI Detective Sergeant McCartan said: “At approximately 2.30am, we received a report that a man had been stabbed multiple times in the Kinnaird Street area. He was taken to hospital where he is receiving treatment for his injuries.

“I would appeal to anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who may have any footage that could assist with enquiries, to contact detectives.”

Robert 'Robbie' Flanagan

Unable to locate Flanagan, police put out an appeal for his whereabouts last Thursday along with CCTV images of the convicted knife killer.

A spokesman said: “Police in Belfast are keen to trace the whereabouts of 43-year-old Robert Flanagan and have significant concerns about his well-being.

“Robert is 6ft tall and was last seen in the area of north Belfast earlier this week. If anyone is aware of his whereabouts they should not approach Robert but should contact police immediately.”

After he stabbed Richard Caldwell to death Flanagan went on the run from police for a week before being found hiding out in the Loughshore area of Newtownabbey.

While behind bars he made numerous criminal contacts and since his release has been linked to drug dealers. Detectives suspect he may be using these links to stay under the radar.

Scene of Kinnaird Street stabbing

Two years ago Flanagan, who grew up in the New Lodge area, suffered a broken leg following a hit and run incident on the Antrim Road.

Video footage of the aftermath of the smash shows a male kicking the killer as he lay on the ground, then leaning over him and screaming “you’ll not hit nobody will ye”.

When he was in prison previously Flanagan studied Shakespeare and acted in a short film recorded in Maghaberry jail which was later released on DVD.

In an accompanying documentary about its production, he joked: “When I phoned home and said I was doing Shakespeare they said, ‘You, doing Shakespeare?’

“I said, ‘Yes, I’m doing Shakespeare and I’m enjoying it and I’m going to stick with it’.”

Anyone with knowledge of Flanagan’s whereabouts should immediately contact police on the non-emergency 101 number.

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