Bosses probe prison escape
Date published: 20 May 2014
POLICE and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has demanded answers from prison bosses after a convicted killer who absconded while on day release from jail was found in Oldham.
Arnold Pickering (44), from Chadderton, was jailed for life in 1991 after stabbing Thomas Leigh to death in Oldham.
Pickering failed to return to Category C prison HMP Kennet in Maghull, Merseyside, on Saturday along with another inmate Thomas Moffett (51), from Blackburn. Pickering was arrested in Oldham yesterday morning, Moffet on Sunday night.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling described the case as unacceptable and said the Government would speed up a planned tightening of the rules around temporary licences, likely leading to the abolition of “town leave”, where a prisoner can be temporarily allowed to visit a local town; more stringent risk assessment, and electronic tags for day-release prisoners.
Commissioner Lloyd said that while he is not opposed to schemes that help prisoners due for release to get back into society, procedures must have the safety of the public at their core.
This was the third time Pickering had absconded from prison since the life sentence for killing Thomas Leigh (53), knifed in the stomach on the doorstep of his Holts home in August 1990.
Pickering argued that he wanted to intimidate Mr Leigh after wrongly believing he had molested children.
Pickering previously absconded while on day release from HMP Kirkham in 2009 when he took part in a Prison Service Project which involved prisoners emptying bins for Manchester City Council. He handed himself in four days later.
Pickering also escaped from the exercise yard of Strangeways Prison, Manchester.
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