'A circus made out of a tragedy' - The search for a son convicted of manslaughter

Martin Connors absconded from Shelton Abbey prison two years ago

Just over two years ago, Wexford man Martin Connors absconded from prison while serving a two-year sentence for the manslaughter of his brother Michael.

Following a argument at their mother Sally Connors family home, Michael fell and failed to regain consciousness.

"Nobody understands where or how it happened," Connors told The Pat Kenny Show.

Despite this, father Ger stressed that the brothers were the closest in the family. 

"They were that close, people actually thought they were twins," he said. "Anywhere they were, they were together, and they looked out for one another."

While Michael was in hospital, Mr Connors said Martin refused to leave his brother's side. The whole family believed Michael would eventually wake up - even when the doctor broached the subject of turning off life support.

On the night of the accident, the Connors called the Gardaí and the ambulance service. However, as Michael urgently needed medical assistance, his parents took it upon themselves to bring him to hospital. 

"Martin ran from the house to the hospital, screaming [...] He said, 'No, no, no, my brother Michael didn't fall mammy, he's ok, he's ok'."

Towards the end of Michael life's, he family were approached by a member of the Gardaí looking for someone to identify his body at the city morgue in Dublin. There, they were encouraged to make a formal statement back in Wexford.

'A falling out between brothers'

Mr and Mrs Connors said Martin was "devastated" following his brother's death.

At the time, Mr Connors said that the whole family was accused of being involved in Michael's death.

Following proceedings, Martin was charged and convicted with manslaughter and was given a three-year prison sentence. Martin pleaded 'not guilty' to the charge.

"For the length of time he was in the Midlands [Prison], we visited him every week," Mr Connors said. "And he had a brave smile on him."

According to Mr Connors, guards at the Midlands Prison described Martin as a "model prisoner", often working in the kitchen.

When he applied for a transfer to Shelton Abbey in Arklow, his parents went on an outing with him, along with some of their children and grandchildren.

Shelton Abbey is an open, low-security prison for men over the age of 19 who are regarded as requiring lower levels of security.

Mr Connors said he gave "no inclination whatsoever" that he was planning on walking out of the prison - Martin was also due to be granted temporary release.

Several days later, Martin absconded from the prison.

Mrs Connors said the Gardaí suggested she and her husband knew where their son was, after he was spotted at Larkin's Cross in Co Wexford on April 24th 2015 - something which hey vehemently deny.

He has not been seen since.

"We handed out leaflets by the thousand - in England and Scotland [...] But now it's gone to the stage where me and my wife don't know what else to do," Mr Connors said.


Mr and Mrs Connors want their son to be declared as a missing person, and not an abscondee.

"We want to appeal to the public and to the rest of our immediate families to look at it that he is missing," Mrs Connors said.

"I do fear from his safety. He's never been away from his home in his life."

"I don't want to get up anyone's back, but this is a living nightmare," Mr Connors said. "You waken in the morning, you close your eyes in the evening. Some of the children come in smiling, and they see the frown on our face, and they go out frowning as well. 

"I waited for a couple of months, and I waited for six months [...] I can't wait any longer," he said.