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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.


On balance here I would say the system has worked.
He's been given a chance while under supervision, and proved himself unsuitable for release. Now he will receive another sentence for going on the run and stay in prison.
The alternative is to make him serve the entirety of the sentence and throw him out with no supervision, in which case he is free to commit crime until caught again.
I think the current system is the better one.

Amazing how this lot in office still continue to make stupid claims such as, we're speeding up planned tightening of the rules.
Can a simple change involve four years "thinking about it", "working out how to do it" with temporary licences, sounds like a fairly easy process to me, but then again I'm not in Government.

Life should be a minimum 30 years regardless of the EU, this is our Country, we should be able to set our own rules without interference from Brussels, we've no deterents anymore !

The prisons today are now called reabilitation centres,the problem is the guests keep escaping! The so called "do gooders" are causing great concern from the law abiding public.They should be identified and asked why they let out dangerous criminals.Then sack them !!!

Amazing we had a real justice system in 1991, people are stabbed & killed everyday these days & only get about 5 years for it & are paroled in 2 & a half.

I concur with Latics Observer!

For murder life should mean life,period.

A man here committed an horrendous murder and was handed sentences of 200 years and 120 years - there will be no parole or 'day release'. His sentence is labelled as 'Perpetual Inclusion' - he will NEVER be released. That's justice. Not long ago a rapist got 70 years and a couple convicted of fraud received 60 years.

Flake...whilst I can see your viewpoint and understand it in theory, this recidivist is perfect example of it is not working in practice. He has absconded three time now...once is bad enough and should raise doubts, twice and you wonder why he doesn't seem to understand....SO WHICH IDIOTIC PRISON OFFICIAL THOUGHT HIM SUITABLE FOR A THIRD ATTEMPT???

Each time he escapes his sentence is increased meaning he stays inside longer.
It is the rules and the way the law works which say he has to be given the chance after a certain period of time. You might have thought an intelligent person would have got the message, obviously he's not that intelligent !
Have you thought of the alternative though?
End of sentence he leaves with hardly supervision free to offend until caught.

Flake, the rules are a "one size fits all" approach which in Pickering's case were abused and should be changed. Under the present system and at some point in the future, he will be eligible to have day release and will do the same again. As I've stated before, make the prisons a place that no-one would want to return to but by all means assist them on release.


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