Missing Prisoner From Ford Arrested In Winchester

25 June 2014, 18:20 | Updated: 25 June 2014, 18:22

A convicted armed robber who absconded from an open prison almost two weeks ago has been caught in Winchester.

David Blood was arrested at about 7pm yesterday, a Sussex Police spokesman said.

The 48-year-old was one of eight men on the run from Ford Prison, near Arundel, West Sussex, who police are trying to trace.

He was jailed for life at Stafford Crown Court 11 years ago for his part in a post office robbery in the West Midlands in December 2000.

Blood, who walked out of the prison on June 12, will appear at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court tomorrow charged with escaping from lawful custody.

His arrest came a day after police mistakenly appealed for help in tracing a ``fugitive'' inmate who actually handed himself in 13 years ago.

Sussex Police named Christopher Street, 62, as one of the men who needed to be recaptured after absconding from the Category D jail in November 2001.

But following further checks, it emerged that Street, who was convicted of conspiracy to rob and firearms offences, had actually handed himself in four days later and went on to complete his sentence.

Detective Superintendent Jez Graves, of Sussex Police, said: ``In the initial scoping process of prioritising those absconders on whom we would put our initial focus, Mr Street was identified as one of those we were seeking.

``An officer has since identified that he is no longer wanted and he has been removed from the list.''

The slip-up came as the force faced criticism for issuing belated public appeals for help in tracing prisoners on the run from Ford Prison.

Among the list were three convicted murderers including Timothy O'Leary, 59, who has been on the run for 17 years.

O'Leary, also known as Timothy McCarthy, was jailed for life for murdering a fellow traveller in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, in September 1981.

The other two are Robert Donovan, 57, who went missing in June 2010, and Derek Passmore, 49, who absconded in June last year.

Sussex Police has set up a unit to review absconders from the jail and since November, 26 offenders, including Blood, have been recaptured. A further 86 are still missing.

Detective Inspector Russ Burgess said: ``I would like to thank everyone that contacted us or other forces with information about Blood, and would encourage anyone to call us if they know where any wanted people are.

``We are continuing to track down and arrest men who have absconded from Ford Prison and will not stop until each and every one has been returned to custody to complete their sentence.''

The Ministry of Justice said that Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has ordered major changes to tighten up temporary release processes and open prison eligibility.

It was the case of ``Skullcracker'' Michael Wheatley which prompted ministers to launch a major review of the case, including a broader assessment of the release on temporary licence (ROTL) process.

He was jailed for life for a raid on a building society while on the run from HMP Standford Hill in Kent, the second time he has been jailed for holding up the same branch.

Most recent Ministry of Justice figures show there were 1,242 indeterminate-sentenced prisoners - that is those serving life and imprisonment for public protection sentences (IPP) - as at December 31 last year. This includes 643 lifers and 599 IPP inmates in open prisons.