jailbreak | 

Knife killer Alison Michelle McDonagh who went on-the-run from prison is back behind bars

Jail bosses are sure to review her status given this is the third time she's gone AWOL in five years

Alison Michelle McDonagh made her third break for freedom

Steven Moore

A convicted killer who went on the run from prison is back safely behind bars after she was nabbed by police.

Alison Michelle McDonagh (48) who murdered drinking pal George McDowell in 2004 failed to return to Hydebank Wood female prison in South Belfast on Thursday.

In the Sunday World today, we revealed how prison guards raised the alarm after they discovered she'd not returned to the jail having been allowed out for a few hours to go into Belfast city centre.

But now it has emerged, following our report, she was caught and brought back to jail.

McDonagh had been enjoying the relaxed prison regime afforded to prisoners nearing the end of their sentence in Murray House.

But jail bosses are sure to review her status given this is the third time she's gone AWOL in five years.

In fact due to her poor record she's now served 17 years behind bars - despite only being ordered to serve a minimum tariff of 12 years.

McDonagh had been afforded the luxury of staying in Murray House, a self-contained unit for prisoners approaching the end of their sentence - despite her appalling record of continually going on the run.

Normally the women housed there are able to work out of prison in the local community.

Ironically McDonagh has been in jail now for 17 years having been sentenced to just 12 years - meaning had she stuck to the rules she'd have been a free woman five years ago!

We can reveal McDonagh was allowed to go into Belfast city centre on Thursday with another female prisoner after being granted a three-hour release.

It's understood the other inmate returned as agreed at 2pm but 48-year-old McDonagh failed to turn up and the alarm was raised later on Thursday night.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) put the appeal up on its website, though it is tricky to find and it didn't release a press release to warn the public.

In its 'wanted person' section the DoJ states McDonagh has green eyes, brown hair and tattoos on her right arm.

They say she failed to return from "unaccompanied temporary release".

The Department of Justice alert on its website

The incident has raised eyebrows as to why McDonagh had been allowed back into Murray House having gone Awol twice before.

"Last time she went on the run she came back and claimed she'd been abducted by aliens," said a source.

"She took a bit of stick because the aliens must have done her hair and nails because they looked great when she finally returned!"

McDonagh was due a commission hearing in September as she's already five years over her tariff but this will almost certainly set her hopes of being released permanently back even further.

Sources say she's obsessed with cats and was always feeding them at the prison and had a favourite one called Lady Marmalade.

In 2006, Alison Michelle Martin - as she was then known - was jailed for the 2004 murder of her drinking friend George McDowell.

During her three-week trial, the court heard how Martin had arranged for the victim, whom she had met a week earlier, to stay at the flat of a friend's in Rathcoole.

Later she ordered him to leave the flat before stabbing him in the neck with a kitchen knife.

In 2016 McDonagh went on the run for four days while on a work replacement scheme and then did the same thing a year later.

We revealed back in 2017 the twisted knife killer - despite having a history of not being trustworthy - had been granted permission to start a new work placement in preparation for her being released in the near future.

We discovered she had been given an extraordinary second chance with a job in an animal sanctuary in Newry.

She married another prisoner from Maghaberry Prison after they started writing to each other, however her husband died six months ago after losing a battle with cancer.

The Sunday World understands the man - who was allowed to leave prison to see out his last days in a hospice - left Alison a fairly substantial amount of money and property in his will.

McDonagh always denied the murder and insisted she had been set up, however a jury dismissed the theory.

It was revealed in court that prior to the murder Martin had two previous criminal convictions for violence on her record.

She was handed a life sentence for the George McDowell murder and ordered to serve at least 12 years before she could be considered for release.

And during an appeal in 2012 her legal team argued that evidence submitted during her trial that she had a "propensity" for carrying knives should not have been allowed as it didn't demonstrate she was capable of murder.

However, appeal court judges dismissed the case.

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