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Man avoids going back to jail despite judge branding him ‘an idiot’

A Loughgall man charged with being unlawfully at large after failing to return from a two-day leave from prison has been granted bail.

Christopher Reid, 31, of Lurgancott Lane, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday for a bail application.

This was opposed by police who believed there was a risk of further offences.

The incident in question occurred on May 17, when the defendant, who was a sentenced prisoner at the time, failed to return after being given a two day home leave from Magilligan.

Reid was arrested by police at his parents’ home at 9.40pm that same day.

A constable stated that “the offence speaks volumes” adding that the defendant had a history of non-attendance.

It was heard that Reid previously had six bench warrants made out for him.

The constable believed it bail was granted he may not return for trial.

Defence solicitor Conor Downey commented that much of Reid’s record was of some vintage and that his offending had tailed off.

He also stated this had not been a case of the defendant going into hiding as he did not run.

Mr Downey explained that Reid had been reliant on a lift from a friend on that day but had been let down.

The solicitor added that this was not an excuse but the defendant did not leave the house as he knew the police would come to get him.

Court heard Reid’s parents were prepared to offer surety in order to secure his bail.

It was also heard that the defendant had recently found full-time employment for the first time since leaving school.

Deputy District Judge Trevor Browne said he took no pleasure in “sending someone to prison because they are an idiot and not where they are supposed to be”.

He added he had “very little confidence” in the defendant but would give him time between now and his upcoming Crown Court case to prove himself.

Bail was secured at the cost of £150 along with a surety of £250.

The case will return to Craigavon Crown Court on July 20.

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