Police hunt for dangerous prisoner released accidentally

Michael Lawrence Smith (38) was charged with murder and had been denied bail

Michael Lawrence Smith, charged with  murder of Belfast man Stephen Carson,  who was shot dead in his home in front of his  son and partner in February 2016

Michael Lawrence Smith, charged with murder of Belfast man Stephen Carson, who was shot dead in his home in front of his son and partner in February 2016

 

Police in Northern Ireland are hunting a dangerous prisoner charged with murder after the prison service released him accidentally.

Michael Lawrence Smith (38), from Ardmonagh Gardens in Belfast, was on remand in the high-security Maghaberry Prison when he was mistakenly released on Tuesday.

Smith is charged with the murder of Belfast man Stephen Carson, who was shot dead in his home in front of his nine-year-old son and partner in February 2016.

Police have described him as dangerous, with an extensive history of violence.

He had previously applied for High Court bail, which was rejected following police objections.

PSNI Det Supt Kevin Geddes said: “Michael Smith, who is deemed as dangerous, was last seen in the Belfast area at 2pm on Tuesday, March 7th.

“He has an extensive history of violence and I would urge the public not to approach him, but contact police immediately.

“I would ask Mr Smith to hand himself in to the authorities without any further delay and ask anyone who knows of his current whereabouts or who has any information to contact police on 999.”

In a statement, the Department of Justice said: “The matters surrounding the erroneous release of Michael Lawrence Smith are currently under investigation. The Prison Service would urge anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact the police immediately.”