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Murderer still on the loose

PUBLISHED: 11:26 13 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:32 03 March 2010

MURDERER Lawrence Hughes was still on the loose last night after going missing from a Suffolk jail more than three days ago.

Guards at Hollesley Bay Prison, near Woodbridge, reported the 28-year-old Irishman missing from its open wing on Saturday evening.

MURDERER Lawrence Hughes was still on the loose last night after going missing from a Suffolk jail more than three days ago.

Guards at Hollesley Bay Prison, near Woodbridge, reported the 28-year-old Irishman missing from its open wing on Saturday evening. It has sparked a major police hunt for Hughes, who was jailed for life in 1995 for killing his girlfriend.

The prisoner, who absconded from the Hoxne Unit, was last seen at 6.50pm on Saturday and reported missing just over an hour later. Hughes, who was transferred to Hollesley last November and was due for parole in May, is known to have contacts in London and Hampshire.

The unemployed labourer, described in court as a petty criminal on drugs, was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey in 1995 for the murder of Aileen Gibson-Steele, his former girlfriend and the sister of Irish rugby international Peter Clohessy.

Hughes, then aged 20, met psychology student Miss Gibson-Steele, 25, at a rave gig in the east end of London but their ill-matched love affair was doomed from the start, the court heard.

He had attempted to commit suicide to stop her finishing with him and, when she finally broke it off in June 1994, drug-crazed Hughes strangled her in her bedsit before slashing his own throat. He kept her murder a secret for 36 hours until friends discovered the London University student's body.

Hughes, of Tollington Park, Finsbury Park, north London, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of provocation and denied murder, but was convicted by a jury. His wrists were covered in scars from at least two suicide attempts as he was led from the dock.

The convicted killer is 5ft 7ins tall and is of medium build. He still has a large scar visible on his neck and police are urging anyone who recognises Hughes not to approach him but to call 999 immediately.

Despite his past, a spokeswoman for the prison said the public should not be alarmed by Hughes going on the run. "He is of minimal risk to the public," she said. "If he was a risk, he would not be in an open prison, which had been recommended for him."

But she added: "He has let the prison down and let himself down. He will go straight back into a high-security prison and will have to work his way back through the system – this incident will remain on his record for years."

The spokeswoman said prisoners going missing "was always going to happen" in an open jail. "There is a lot of trust involved. Most prisoners have a sense of responsibility and want to be released so they can start again. Going on the run is not going to enable them to do that," she said.


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