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Crime spree Murderers went on rampage after getting day release from prison

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Convicted killer Patrick Harris

Convicted killer Patrick Harris

Convicted killer Patrick Harris

Two lifers went on a rampage when they were given day release from jail - breaking into two apartments, terrorising home owners and robbing a shop.

The convicted murderers, Patrick Harris and Gary Gleeson, had been granted temporary release to enjoy a day out of Loughan House detention centre when they falsely imprisoned Kim Murrin (28) and Billy Clarke (73) at their homes in Sligo.

During a sentence hearing last week, Harris apologised to his victims saying he was high on ‘spice’ and had been looking forward to release before the incident occurred. Gleeson said he was drunk but had been a good prisoner up until then.

The men who have since been transferred to Wheatfield Prison were sentenced to eight years after a Circuit Court heard the terrifying details of the events of August 14th, 2019.

Ms Murrin, a teacher was alone at her boyfriend’s Quayside apartment that afternoon when she answered a caller only to find two men at the door claiming they were looking for a woman called Nicole.

They left when she advised them to check the other apartments but returned at 4pm at which point they barged in.

The court heard how the pair asked Ms Murrin if she lived alone and Gleeson then asked her if she was a prostitute or had a boyfriend.

In her statement she said that Harris interrupted his friend saying: “It’s not the time for that, we’ve a job to do. You can come back to that.” He proceeded to tell the young woman not to touch her phone and said he’d kill her boyfriend if he hurt her.

The woman’s ordeal lasted about 10 minutes and once they left she called for help.

Seventy three year old Mr Clarke was due to visit family in the Netherlands the following day and had cash in his apartment for the trip. He had been out during the day and only returned at 4.50pm.

Before opening his door, the two men screamed at him, pushed him down the corridor and screamed at him to move. They knocked him to the ground and turned him to face the ground.

He later told Gardai that he thought the men were going to kill him.

They proceeded to drag him into his apartment and threw him on a bed, tying clothes around his face so he couldn’t see, all the while shouting at him.

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When they left Mr Clarke was too terrified to move.

His phone had been pulled from the wall but he eventually raised the alarm by banging on a wall. In his statement to gardaí Mr Clarke said he thought he had approximately €4,500 in the apartment and there was €1,500 missing and approximately €30 missing from his wallet.

Following the ordeal the pensioner moved out of the apartment.

Garda Gary Conneally told the Sligo Circuit Court that officers had a report earlier in the day of thefts from TK which were later suspected of being carried out by the two inmates.

CCTV later showed the men following Mr Clarke to his apartment. When they were arrested they were both carrying cash. DNA from a crisp packet from Mr Clarke’s apartment matched that of Gleeson’s.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Clarke described his terror: "I’m blessed to be alive, I’m afraid if anyone knocks on the door."

In her victim impact statement Ms Murrin said the incident left her feeling unsafe and anxious. She didn’t venture outside by herself and she had missed work due to lack of sleep.

After hearing about the men’s previous convictions she did not know how they were allowed ‘roam around’.

The court was told Harris had been sentenced to life in prison in 2005, for a murder he committed in 2002.

Currently, he has served 17 years of this sentence and was expected to be released in December last, however he remains in custody, following these offences.

Gleeson had also previously been out on day release in the latter years of his sentence for murder which he began serving in 2003, aged 19.

Judge Francis Comerford said he viewed the offences as so serious as they were committed against people in the safety of their own homes and said a significant aggravating factor for both men was the fact they committed the offences while serving sentences for murder, and also while out on temporary release.

The judge sentenced Harris to eight years and three months in prison for the false imprisonment of Mr Clarke, with the final 18 months suspended, while Gleeson was sentenced to eight years and three months in prison with the final year suspended.

Both men received six year concurrent sentences for Ms Murrin’s false imprisonment.


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