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Thanks very much, now get back in jail!

PUBLISHED: 20:49 19 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:35 03 March 2010

IPSWICH jailbird James Turner escaped from Norwich Prison on a mission of mercy and today was told by a judge he had highlighted flaws in its security.

IPSWICH jailbird James Turner escaped from Norwich Prison on a mission of mercy and today was told by a judge he had highlighted flaws in its security.

Then the 39-year-old was sent back to the Norfolk jail after being sentenced to 28 days for the farcical incident in which he removed his prison bib and walked out the front gate to visit his sick mum.

Turner, a remand prisoner at HMP Norwich, gave his name when asked but walked out freely after a prison visit on February 13 this year, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Sentencing Turner to 28 days in prison for the escape, His Honour Judge Nicholas Beddard said: "I understand what lay behind this and it looked as though it was a rush of blood to the head because of the situation," stemming from what he had just been told during the prison visit.

The judge said the escape was "really a very exceptional one," and may have "done someone a favour" by causing the tightening up of procedures.

Turner will serve half of his sentence with the next 14 days being suspended, the judge said.

Earlier prosecutor Robert Sadd had outlined how the bizarre jail break came about.

He said that during the course of a prison visit Turner decided to try and escape "by the simple expedient of quite simply taking off his prison bib and walking out"

Turner, who was on remand for theft at the time, was caught three days after his break out by police at his Ipswich home.

"They simply went to his flat and found him. They searched the flat and they couldn't find him initially and then suddenly he came out of the loft hatch," Mr Sadd said.

Today Turner pleaded guilty to escaping from the jail.

Steven Harvey, representing Turner, said his client had been told during the visit that his 85-year-old mother's health was deteriorating. Turner's mum had Parkinson's Disease and was in an old people's home, he said.

During the visit, Turner also learnt that his Ipswich flat had been burgled, he told the court.

"Motivated by these two reasons, he simply took off his bib," and walked out, Mr Harvey said. "He gave his own name when asked," he added.

Mr Harvey said Turner phoned the prison on the Thursday after his escape and after he had seen his ailing mum.

The escape was "not a product of planning" nor a "violent break out," he said.

And after seeing his ailing mum, Turner "did what he should have, to get back inside," Mr Harvey told the court.

"He apologises for the embarrassment he has caused the authorities," Mr Harvey said.

Shortly after the jailbreak it was reported Turner had given guards the slip before boasting to startled visitors and trying to persuade them to be his getaway driver.

He took off his distinctive prison bib and strolled straight past guards and out of the visitors' room.

He then walked unchallenged into the adjoining waiting room where he sidled up to Chris Savage 33 who was with partner Tracy Mussett 36 and their three children preparing to visit her father.

Turner muttered under his breath: "I have just escaped I am on remand and the guards let me walk straight past" Are you driving? I need a lift"

Mr Savage from Costessey in Norfolk said: "I didn't believe him at first I thought someone was winding me up so I said no and walked outside.

"He was not at all threatening or anything He seemed very laid back and calm," added Ms Mussett

Turner then asked two other women who were also visiting the prison to help but when they refused he completed his bold bid for freedom on foot walking down the road away from the Mousehold jail.


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