A FUGITIVE is back behind bars – 15 years after being on the run.
Michael Sheridan has fathered five children – and even come to the attention of the authorities three times in Ireland – since he walked out of HMP Standford Hill in Kent on October 17, 1999.
The now 39-year-old had been serving an 18-month sentence for attempted burglary imposed at Blackfriars Crown Court on July 1, 1999, when prison staff at the open jail realised he was missing.
He remained a wanted fugitive until May this year when police were called to his home in Washington – where he had moved in with his sister – and checks revealed he was a prisoner on the run.
Prosecutor Michael Bunch told Newcastle Crown Court: “He was marked down as wanted by the police for the absconding in 1999 and, as a result, was arrested.
“He confirmed he had walked out of the open prison in October 1999, had returned to Ireland and accepted he had been unlawfully at large for the whole of the intervening period.”
The court heard in 2007, 2010 and 2013 Sheridan was stopped by the Gardaí in Ireland for driving matters, but the authorities there were not aware of his wanted status in the English jurisdiction.
Sheridan, of Barmston Centre, Barmston, Washington, pleaded guilty to escape. Mr recorder Murray jailed him for eight months.
The judge told him: “You were sent to HMP Standford Hill, a category D prison, and trust was placed in you not to escape.
“You breached that trust and succumbed to temptation.
“I accept this was no great, planned escape, it was opportunistic.
“You then kept clear of the authorities for nearly 15 years.
“The aggravating features are the breach of trust and the fact you left the jurisdiction and that you did so for nearly 15 years.
“These offences have to be marked with imprisonment, firstly to punish the absconder but also to send a message to those who might be thinking about it.”
The court heard Sheridan had been remanded in custody while awaiting sentence in 1999 after being caught at Holyhead making a first attempt to flee to Ireland.
After he received the 18-month prison term, he served a few months behind bars before walking out of jail.
Jamie Adams, defending, said Sheridan was grieving the sudden death of his brother at the time and wanted to get back to his family in Ireland.
Mr Adams said: “It was not an elaborate escape, it was really quite sad when you look at all the circumstances.
“It is the best part of 15 years on now he’s having to answer for something that he did way back when he was 24.
“One can perhaps understand why he might put everything to the back of his mind when he’s leading what seems to be a crime-free life in southern Ireland, having brought up a family of five children.”