Family Fury At Attacker’s Leave From Prison

The family of an Ulster man left brain damaged after being attacked with a hammer while he lay in his bed said yesterday they were “disgusted and upset” that his attacker has gone missing after being let out of jail on compassionate leave.

Robert McCracken, whose brother Maurice now depends on round-the-clock care as a result of the hammer assault, called on those responsible for granting Barry Kevin Donegan Moyna leave to be made accountable.

The 22-year-old inmate failed to return to Maghaberry jail last Thursday after being let out following the death of his brother.

Moyna was serving eight years for grievous bodily harm for the March 2003 attack on Mr McCracken, 59, in his Strangford Avenue home in south Belfast.

Moyna was due to be released in June, and the Prison Service said a full risk assessment had been conducted on him prior to his release.

His brother, Gerard Michael Donegan, was also found guilty of involvement in the attack and is currently serving a 15-year sentence for attempted murder.

Robert McCracken, who lives in Castlerock, told the BBC’s Stephen Nolan Show: “I feel that the people who allowed that to happen should be held accountable. As far as our family is concerned the sentence was far too short anyway – it’s ridiculous.”

Mr McCracken said the family had been preparing for his sister’s ruby wedding anniversary when news of Moyna’s disappearance reached them.

“We are totally disgusted and I feel that the people who allowed this to happen should be held accountable.

“The decision should never have been made in the first place regarding the first sentence.

“And now it is so easy for someone to get out like that, without being accompanied or being tagged – and who is to say he won’t commit a crime like that again?

“Anyone who has any conscience at all should realise how much of a distress that would be for the immediate family.”
Mr McCacken said the family had not been notified of Moyna’s leave.

“Maurice’s wife and family should have been notified about this, to give them the chance to prepare,” he said.

“Now it’s been broadcast all around the country, on the news every day. This kind of thing is nothing new, but how could the authorities be so lackadaisical as to give someone leave to go out round the countryside, someone who is a vicious criminal like that?”

According to the Prison Service, in order for victims and their families to be made aware of when prisoners do not return to custody they must register with the Northern Ireland Prison Service victims’ information scheme.

It is understood the family of Maurice McCracken had not registered with the programme.

Speaking about the attack which left his brother brain-damaged, Robert McCracken said: “We are thankful that (Maurice] still knows his family but it is poor consolation for the state they left him in.

“I am just trying to make a case on behalf of the rest of the family. We want to see Moyna caught quickly, he could be prowling around the same area where he attacked Maurice. Who knows what he is up to?”

Maurice’s wife Maureen was yesterday too upset to speak about events herself.

South Belfast SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell said the McCrackens had been put in an “awful position” by not being told that one of Maurice’s assailants was out on parole.

“I understand there has been no serious effort to take that family’s feelings into account,” he said.

“I understand there was no effort to indicate to the family that this prisoner, who had inflicted such horrific injuries on the father, was going to be released on parole.”

Moyna is described as being 5ft 5in, of medium build with brown hair and brown eyes.