Hapless jailbirds back behind bars

A PAIR of bungling convicts who escaped prison together are both back behind bars today after their month-long bid for freedom was abruptly ended.absconded from Hollesley Bay open prison on June 3.

A PAIR of bungling convicts who escaped prison together are both back behind bars today after their month-long bid for freedom was abruptly ended.

David Anthony Slack, 36, who was serving nine years and seven months for robbery, and James “Rocky” Purcell, who was serving five years and eight months for robbery, absconded from Hollesley Bay open prison on June 3.

But today, following a chance detection in an Ipswich bargain clothing store and a charitable resident's vigilance, the duo are once again being held at her majesty's pleasure.

After breaking out of Hollesley, Slack was offered, through a friend of a friend, a place to stay in Ipswich's St George's Street.

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However, when police announced he had absconded and his mugshot was printed in The Evening Star, the kind-hearted resident quickly alerted officers.

The resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “A friend of mine asked if I could put him up so I agreed.

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“I didn't mind helping him out and he looked like he needed a place to stay so I was happy to let him.

“He didn't have any money so he started begging in the town centre, I think outside H&M.

“I picked up the Star and I couldn't believe it when I saw his face on the page.

“I called the police that evening because I wouldn't have been able to sleep. I had to tell them as soon as I realised what was going on.”

Slack, who bears a Bob Dylan tattoo on his shoulder, was eventually arrested in the town centre on June 28.

Meanwhile, his accomplice Purcell did not fare much better.

Despite police appeals, Purcell had successfully evaded police for more than four weeks.

However his attempts to avoid justice came to a close when officers were called to Primark in Ipswich town centre at around 3.30pm on Wednesday .

Ironically they had not been called to the shop because somebody had spotted Purcell, rather security guards had clocked a woman they suspected of shoplifting.

An eyewitness told the Star that officers became suspicious of Purcell, who was stood near the woman, after he refused to give his name when asked.

The man, who did not want top be named, said: “Police turned up at the right time.

“They questioned him further and arrested him when they realised who he was.

“I'm not sure why he hung around in the shop for them to arrive.”

A police spokeswoman said Purcell and Slack were in the process of being “returned to the prison system”.

Should more be done to stop absconding? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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