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ALARM RAISED Hunt underway after prisoner escapes Mountjoy Prison

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A HUNT is underway for a prolific armed robber after he absconded from Mountjoy Prison on Monday evening.

Stephen Bollard, who has used an assortment of weapons including an imitation firearm, knives and wheelbrace to terrify his victims, absconded from the prison while returning from work in the officers mess at approximately 5pm.

The alarm was raised and gardai notified after officers realised one member of the mess working party had not returned.

A source confirmed gardai were immediately alerted but Bollard, who is serving a six year sentence for a series of armed robberies, has yet to be apprehended.

In 2018, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard how Bollard was attempting to feed his drug addiction when he used implements such as an imitation firearm, knives and a wheel-brace to “terrify” his victims.

The court heard the 29-year-old was identified from CCTV in the majority of the six robberies. He was on bail for the first offence when he committed the later crimes.

When arrested in relation to one of the robberies Bollard was searched at a garda station and €270 of cocaine was found concealed in a plastic bag hidden behind his scrotum.

Bollard left the country and went to live in Scotland in late 2014.

He was returned to Ireland in 2018 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant after serving a sentence for robbery in Edinburgh.

Bollard, with addresses at Gracefield Avenue, Artane and Harmonstown Road, Harmonstown, Dublin pleaded guilty to six robberies at various locations in north Dublin and possession of cocaine on dates between April and November, 2014.

Two counts of theft at Raheny DART station in May 2014 were taken into consideration.

Judge Martin Nolan noted Bollard had used an imitation firearm, knives and a wheel-brace during the robberies to “terrify” the people he encountered.

He said he had no doubt Bollard was robbing to feed his drug problem at the time but said he must have known what he was doing was grossly wrong.

Judge Nolan took into account Bollard's guilty plea and co-operation, as well as the steps he had taken to reform himself. He noted the contents of a psychological report handed into court.

He imposed consecutive sentences totalling six years which he backdated to the previous January.

Defence counsel, Rebecca Smith BL, said Bollard had a very difficult upbringing and become involved with substance abuse at an early age. She said he served a sentence at 15 years old in relation to possession of drugs after being asked, as a vulnerable young person, to transport them.

Counsel said he did well for a time on release from St Patrick's Institution but an escalation of problems in his early twenties led to drug debts which he had to repay. She said the offences before the court were committed on the basis of his drug addiction.

She said Bollard had left Ireland in November 2014 to live with his father in Scotland.

He served sentences for robbery there and was returned to Ireland in February 2018 after being arrested when coming out of prison.

He has been in custody since his return to Ireland.

Ms Smith said he had used his time in custody in Scotland well in terms of his rehabilitation.

She handed in a letter from Bollard in which he said he was sorry for the crimes he had committed. She said he wished to participate in a treatment program and had the support of his mother.

Ms Smith handed in a psychological report outlining Bollard's family history and personal circumstances.

She said he had had his life turned upside down, but was on the road back and wanted to turn things around.

Anyone who knows of Bollards whereabouts should contact their local garda station.

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