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Pictured: Ireland's most dangerous criminal walks free

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 01/09/2019 Eamon Dillon

Wright puffs a cigarette © www.doug.ie Wright puffs a cigarette Ireland's most dangerous prisoner enjoys a stroll after being released from prison on Friday where he had been serving time for a series of terrifying crimes.

Leon Wright this week had his first taste of freedom since he ran amok with a knife off Dublin's Grafton Street in 2013.

a person standing in front of a building: Relaxed: Wright strolls the streets of north Dublin in casual clothing © www.doug.ie Relaxed: Wright strolls the streets of north Dublin in casual clothing

He ambled along a residential street in north Dublin taking slugs from a soft-drink can and pulling on a cigarette as he began to re-adjust to life outside.

Passers-by were oblivious to the fact they were within a few feet of a man who, until just a few hours before, was regarded as the most dangerous man in the Irish prison system. During his long stint behind bars, Wright became infamous thanks to a series of attacks and assaults on prison staff while incarcerated for the random knife attacks in Dublin city-centre.

Until his release this week, he had been one of the handful of inmates detained in the €2.7 million Violence Reduction Unit at the Midlands Prison.

Violence

Wright was taken from the prison complex this week and taken to an apartment in Dublin, according to Sunday World sources.

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Wright in March 2007 © obreslin Wright in March 2007

Until recently Wright had been subjected to strict control behind bars thanks to his propensity for violence. The Irish Prison Service had attempted various approaches to help control his terrifying rages including the use of a Playstation games console, a fish tank and access to a garden.

At his most recent court appearance, in which he had faced charges of attacking prison staff Wright was accompanied in court by five prison officers clad in riot gear.

In that case in March 2017 he was given an extra six months for assaulting three prison officers as he attempted to headbutt the governor of the Midlands Prison.

Independent TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly had supported Wright when he appeared in the Dublin District Court in October 2016 in another case where he was accused of assaulting prison staff.

Wright claimed that in the incident, at Wheatfield Prison in 2013, he had been stripped and beaten by staff.

After he was acquitted of the charges he gave a thumbs up to the two TDs as he was led away to be brought back to prison.

a man standing in front of a building: Older: A more heavyset Wright, now © www.doug.ie Older: A more heavyset Wright, now

Between his stints behind bars Wright has clocked up 106 convictions including 30 assault, firearms and robbery offences.

He has also had more than 250 breaches of prison discipline recorded against him from his time inside.

It has previously been heard in court how Wright embarked on his criminal career at 14, when he stole a phone while living on the streets, before getting his first lengthy jail sentence at the age of 18.

In April 2013, while on bail for assaulting two gardai, he stabbed a Mauritian national with a 25-inch knife as he walked along Chatham Row.

He also assaulted and robbed another couple and later told gardai that he had been aiming for the second victim's organs in the attack.

a person walking down the street: Wright slugs a soft drink © www.doug.ie Wright slugs a soft drink

Wright claimed he had tried to kill the man, "but his bird got in the way."

At a 2007 trial when Wright was aged 18 he was described by Judge Michael White as a "very dangerous teenager".

Hijacking

The remark came as the judge imposed a sentence of 13 years for a series of violent crimes including robbery, hijacking, assault and threatening to kill gardai.

The court heard evidence how he stabbed one youth in the leg during a robbery at St Stephen's Green .

It turned out he had been armed with four knives when he stabbed the 15-year-old as he robbed a group of teenagers of their phones.

It took 10 gardai to arrest Wright, shortly after the robbery, who swung a kitchen knife at them before being subdued.

a man standing in front of a building: Leon Wright © www.doug.ie Leon Wright

In another frightening incident he was in a 15-minute stand-off with gardai in Lucan while armed with a knife and threatening to go into a house and kill the people inside.

After his arrest he was seen banging his head off the wall in a cell before kicking the door open and escaped while handcuffed before being re-arrested the following day.

Crashing

A month later after being released he hijacked two cars from women at Liffey Valley after telling one he would stab her.

After crashing it he made his way back to the car-park where he jumped into the back seat of a car being driven by a woman and roared at her to drive or he would "cut her up".

A garda managed to open the back door when the car stopped in traffic but Wright violently resisted arrest and spat blood at officers.

He also violently resisted arrest in Skerries where he spat at, tried to bite and then grabbed the testicles of a garda.

On another occasion he attacked an officer at the Children's Court and threatened to shoot one in the head saying: "I have a bullet waiting for you when I get out."

One report handed into the court described Wright as dangerous to both himself and the public.

In 2017 Judge Catherine Staines, who heard an assault case against him at Portlaoise, asked: "I really wonder is prison the best place for him, would the Central Mental Hospital not be a more suitable place for him?"

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