Two Irish brothers, serving 11-years for drug smuggling, phoned their priest to tell him they had walked out of the notorious San Juan prison, in Venezuela.
Leigh (25) and Dermot O’Neill (21), from Athlone, say they just walked out of the tough South American prison. Locals have spotted the pair in town with their sister in recent days.
Father John Jennings, an Irish priest living in Caracas, spoke to the Evening Herald.
Jennings said, “They usually rang me looking for money, but this time they told me they’d escaped — I was surprised to say the least.”
He continued, “They walked out in the middle of the day. There was no climbing over a wall in the dark.
“They then went to a local bus terminal and the mother of the Venezuelan took the three of them to their house in the countryside.
“Most likely they would have handed over a lot of money. You don’t just walk out the front door without help from the officials.”
The brothers spent the past few weeks travelling home from South America.
In March 2012 the brothers were travelling with another Irishman Martin “Butch” Beirne in Venezuela. Beirne, who had addresses in Roscommon and Sligo, died in Caracas after a condom, filled with cocaine, burst in his stomach.
Police arrested the O’Neill brothers. They later discovered Leigh had 92 balloons, with 725g of cocaine, worth $66,700, in his body. He pleaded guilty. Dermot was x-rayed, which turned up no evidence. He protested his innocence.
The boys' uncle Tommy told the Sun, “We’re over the moon the boys are out. It was a hellhole jail they were in, so far away. Dermot did nothing, absolutely nothing.
“We were glad to hear they’re out. It was hell they were in, awful hell. We’re so glad they’re back.”
Jennings added, “The director probably doesn’t even know they’re gone.”
Read more offbeat Irish news here.
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