Concern over fugitive murderers

CONCERN has been voiced today after it emerged nine murderers have disappeared from two Suffolk jails in the past six years, including three who are still on the run.

CONCERN has been voiced today after it emerged nine murderers have disappeared from two Suffolk jails in the past six years, including three who are still on the run.

It was also revealed one of the killers has been missing from Hollesley Bay Open Unit, near Woodbridge, for more than four years.

Lawrence Hughes, who was serving a life sentence for strangling his girlfriend in 1995, was last seen in March 2002 and has never been caught.

Police are still trying to trace Hughes, along with two other murderers who have made a break for freedom in the past two months.

Mark Ryder gave prison guards the slip while on a shopping trip to Cambridge in October. The 37-year-old was given a life sentence in 1993 for shooting dead childhood pal Stuart McCue outside a nightclub in Brighton. He had been serving time at Highpoint Prison, in Stradishall.

On Monday, Michael Walsh, who has served 31 years of his life sentence, became the latest killer to go missing from the Hollesley Bay Open Unit, near Woodbridge.

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The 57-year-old, who was jailed in 1975, disappeared while on temporary release to Doncaster, in South Yorkshire.

It is the ninth time a convicted murderer has vanished after leaving a Suffolk jail since 2000, with eight from Hollesley Bay.

Richard Spring, Conservative MP for west Suffolk, called for an inquiry into the number of killers who have gone missing.

He said: “I have raised this personally with the prisons minister.

“I think we do have to examine the guidelines for the rules of people who have gone missing who have a track record of murder.

“To have people who have committed murder go missing is a serious situation for the security of communities and people have the right to feel anxious about it, as I do.”

Since 2001, a total 106 criminals have absconded from Hollesley Bay Open Unit, which mainly houses low-risks prisoners or those approaching the end of their sentences.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office recognised there were risks associated with housing people in such prisons but defended their role.

She said: “We still think open prisons are really important in the resettling process. It helps them restore family links and reduces the chances of them re-offending when they are let out into the community.”

She added an investigation had been launched into the disappearance of Ryder and was ongoing.

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