Wright's murderer returns to prison

A republican gunman who was convicted of the murder of leading loyalist Billy Wright, has been sent back to prison.

INLA member John Kenneway, 43, was one of three men convicted of murdering the notorious loyalist, known as 'King Rat' while he was a prisoner in the Maze prison in 1997.

Kenneway, along with two other men, climbed the wall of the prison yard and shot Wright a number of times.

The Secretary of State Peter Hain is understood to have decided to revoke Kenneway's early release license after he was charge with a number of offences involving threatening and violent behaviour.

Commenting on his decision, the Secretary of State said: “Following consideration of a police report in relation to Mr Kenneway’s alleged offending behaviour that has resulted in him being charged with a number of offences of an apparent violent and threatening nature, I believe him to be a danger to the public and therefore to be in breach of the conditions of his release. Consequently I have suspended his ‘early’ release licence with immediate effect.

“I must emphasise that I will not hesitate to act to suspend the licence of any prisoner who was released under the early release scheme (the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998) if they present a risk to the safety of others.

“My priority is public safety and the interests of the whole community and I cannot permit freedom to any individual intent on abusing the opportunity they have been given to benefit from the early release scheme.”

Life sentence prisoners released on licence on strict conditions that they should not:
  • support a specified organisation;
  • become concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland;
  • become a danger to the public.
Kenneway was released early from prison in October 2000 following a successful application to the Sentence Review Commissioners for accelerated release under the provisions of the NI (Sentences) Act 1998.


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