VIOLENT CRIMINAL ESCAPES COURT
A magistrates’ court went into lockdown on Tuesday after a violent criminal with links to Ashford disappeared by “sheepishly” strolling out of the front door.
Daniel McAvoy, 42, also known as Daniel Murray, appeared at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court in the morning charged with beating up his girlfriend.
But after security guards burst into court and asked if anyone had seen him, the building went into temporary lockdown and no one was allowed to leave.
McAvoy, the stepson of an armed robber, walked out of the front door and turned right towards Gabriel’s Hill, prompting a full-scale search.
KM reporter Annabel Rusbridge-Thomas, who was in court when the drama unfolded, said: “I had seen the defendant and he left court and was handcuffed to prison guards when he was taken downstairs.
“The next thing we knew security guards swung the court door open in the middle of a later case and said loudly: ‘Have you seen him?’
“Everyone went ‘who?’ There was some commotion then someone suggested the magistrates retire.
“Out in the waiting room there were people milling around and I heard someone say he had walked into another courtroom.
“Someone else reported they saw him sheepishly walk around, before heading out of the front door.”
Harry Smith, who was in the waiting room, added: “He should have been handcuffed so obviously someone hasn’t done their job properly.”
McAvoy was described as wearing a red jumper and dark trousers and has a shaved head.
The Mall shopping centre and staff at Maidstone East station were asked to keep a look-out. He is not believed to be carrying any cash.
Police were called and began searching along with court security staff.
British Transport Police officers were also alerted and patrols were stepped up at railway stations around the town.
McAvoy, who has known links to Ashford, Swale and Dartford, had appeared in courtroom two on charges of assault, beating and obstructing a police officer.
It relates to an incident where he pushed his girlfriend’s head into a bar, leaving her bloodied. He admitted the charges.
He was given a 90-day sentence to run concurrently alongside an existing twoand-a-half year one.
McAvoy last appeared at Lewes Crown Court in East Sussex in August. He faced eight charges of burglary and one of fraud.
He was also sentenced for theft and burglary in 2011.
During a trial at Canterbury Crown Court he also admitted another 14 offences – including using a credit card from a wallet he found on the street buying £2,000 of items.
He told officers he didn’t hand the wallet in “because I am not a good man”.
Police officers showed a picture of the convicted criminal to members of the public on Tuesday afternoon in a bid to find him.
A police spokesman added: “Officers are currently searching for Murray, who also uses the name Daniel McAvoy, and inquiries are on-going.
“He had appeared in connection with a domestic abuse incident. He is not believed to be a risk to the public.”
If anyone sees McAvoy they are advised not to approach him and to call 999 quoting reference 22*510.
Convicted criminal Daniel McAvoy, aka Daniel Paul Murray, escaped from Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on Sep 22 and disappeared, sparking a huge man hunt