A prisoner on ‘home leave’ failed to return to a detention centre because “it was heartbreaking” to leave his girlfriend, Derry Crown Court has heard.
Martin Maughan (19), of 112 Sallys Wood, Irvinestown, Enniskillen was found to be unlawfully at large in Derry on October 26 last year.
The court heard that Maughan was serving a five year sentence at Hydebank Young Offenders Centre for several offences including robbery, kidnapping, burglary and blackmail.
He was discharged on home leave on October 23 and was due to return on October 25.
On October 26, police arrived at an address in Strathfoyle to make enquiries about unpaid fines and noted that a male was acting suspiciously in the house.
They saw the male run up the stairs when he noticed officers. Maughan was found upstairs in a bed, hiding under duvet covers.
Officers also found a small piece of herbal cannabis. When interviewed by police on why he failed to return to the centre, he said: “Because I was with a girl, it was heartbreaking, it was tough.”
A defence barrister said his client had used his time in custody to complete several courses including grounds maintenance and a Fire Service course. “He is not a young man who sat in his cell and played Playstation.”
He said Maughan had learning difficulties and could be described as a vulnerable adult who came from a “difficult” background.
“He was given home leave and he found it hard to leave his girlfriend . . . it is their intention to renew their relationship, to marry and to start a family together. He simply found it too hard to leave her.”
The barrister added that Maughan had been placed on suicide watch while in custody and had been given leave to see his girlfriend.
He said that his client intended to smoke the cannabis in prison “to lighten his mood”.
Judge Piers Grant said Maughan had a “sophisicated record”, with 24 previous convictions.
Anyone who possessed drugs with the intention of bringing them into prison “must accept a serious view to be taken”, he stated.
The Judge added: “People who are granted home leave are being granted a privilege and if they breach it they put the whole system at risk.”
He described Maughan’s actions as “wreckless” and contrary to his behaviour while in the prison compound. Maughan was sentenced to six months in custody.