Prisoner recaptured – but more may abscond now says prison expert

Thorn Cross Open Prison
Thorn Cross Open Prison

One of two inmates who absconded from an open prison has been found – but the public shoud not be surprised now if more absconds happen in the coming week..

Anthony Peloe, 43, who was serving an indeterminate sentence for possessing firearms with intent to cause harm, was detained last night and is now in custody, Cheshire Police said.

Peloe went missing from Thorn Cross open prison in Warrington at 10.30am on Tuesday.

A second man, convicted robber John Arnold, 30, who absconded with him, remains at large and police are urgently appealing for information on his whereabouts.

He is described as white, about 5ft 11in and slim. He has brown hair and brown eyes and may be wearing green prison-issue trousers.

It comes as two other men who absconded from a different open prison on Monday were also arrested yesterday.

Damien Burns, 39, and Dean Jackson, 27, went missing from category D Hatfield Prison, near Doncaster.

Burns, who was convicted in 2007 and was serving an indeterminate sentence for a knifepoint robbery, was arrested yesterday in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, while Jackson, on remand awaiting sentencing for a theft-related matter, was detained in Durham.

The disappearances are the latest in a series of incidents in recent weeks in which inmates have absconded from low-security prisons.

Arnold Pickering, who stabbed a blind man to death, was arrested earlier this week after going on the run from the category C Kennet prison in Merseyside on Saturday.

Another inmate, swastika-tattooed Thomas Moffett, 51, who is serving an indeterminate sentence for a number of robberies, also failed to return but was later arrested for being unlawfully at large.

Two weeks ago convicted armed robber Michael Wheatley absconded from Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent while on temporary release, during which time he is alleged to have robbed a bank in Surrey.

He will appear at Guildford Crown Court on May 29 charged with robbery, possession of an imitation firearm and being unlawfully at large.

Following recent escapes Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has promised major changes to the open prison estate and the release on temporary licence (ROTL) scheme, causing one prisons expert to accuse him of scaring prisoners into escapes.

Mark Leech, editor of Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said: “The ROTL and open prison system have served us well for half a century and we do not need panicking politicians to make announcements of wide scale change which could incite absconds instead of reducing them.

“Chris Grayling should defend the ROTL and open prison systems, not drop his bottle when a couple of prisoners fail to live up to the trust placed in them – and two of the recent absconds were not even in the open prison estate at all.

“Long term prisoners need to be tested before being let out of the gate for good, some will fail those tests, that’s inevitable, ROTL is not an exact science, but each one which fails should be seen as a success of the system, and not proof of its failure.”



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