A mother whose criminal son went on the run three weeks ago after he'd been granted three hours compassionate bail to visit his ill grandmother, today lost half of the £500 cash surety she'd lodged with the court.

Theresa Donegan from Summerhill Park in the Prehen area of Derry withdrew £500 from her Credit Union Christmas savings account to enable her son James Gerald Donegan to be granted compassionate bail.

However during the three hour compassionate bail period last month her son, aged thirty from Ferndale Drive, absconded. He was in custody in Maghaberry Prison awaiting sentencing for stealing a woman's handbag, assaulting the woman and attempting to hijack a car.

Donegan, who has eighty-three previous criminal convictions, admitted committing the offences in May of last year.

The PSNI believe Donegan is living in a border village in Co. Donegal but because he is still at large they do not believe he can be compelled to attend the city's Crown Court for his sentencing.

In court today Mrs. Donegan's solicitor Seamus Quigley told Judge Philip Babington that Mrs. Donegan has been in touch with her son since he went on the run pleading with him to return home.

He said Donegan's absconding had caused considerable stress to his mother and to other members of her family.

"The police have been searching several houses, as they are entitled to, in their efforts to locate Mr. Donegan whose behaviour has caused ripples far and wide. She accepts her son duped her and that she has been let down by her son", Mr. Quigley said.

Judge Babington said Donegan had duped not only his mother but also the court.

"Behaviour like this means that other compassionate bail applications will not be given serious consideration in future because of this man's behaviour", he said.

"I consider Mrs. Donegan to be a very truthful lady and I am sorry I have to do this but the court has to mark this", Judge Babington added.

Judge Babington then estreated half of Mrs. Donegan's £500 surety.

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