Stunned prison chiefs in Northern Ireland have been told that a man coming to the end of a murder sentence has gone AWOL and returned to his home in Kells in Meath.

James Meehan was jailed for a minimum of 14 years for killing dad of four James McFadden in 2007, McFadden died after he was attacked by three people outside his home in Shantallow, Derry, following a wedding reception.

Meehan’s wife Brenda and stepson Sean Devenney were convicted of manslaughter in the same instance.

PSNI officers called to the address where Meehan, who was allowed a number of trips home to prepare him for his full release, was supposed to be staying last weekend to carry out a routine alcohol curfew check and were stunned to be told he was not there but had travelled back to Kells.

It appears that although Gardai called to his home in the Bullring area of Kells and spoke to Meehan they could take no further action as he is an Irish citizen and legally would have to be extradited should he not return voluntarily to the North,

On the NI prison service web page Meehan is described as being unlawfully at large since October 9th and has committed assault causing actual bodily harm and murder, and the public are asked to contact Crimestoppers if they spot him.