UK & World News

  • 19 May 2014, 16:33

Arnold Pickering: Killer On The Run Arrested

A convicted murderer who absconded from prison while on day release has been arrested in Greater Manchester.

It was the third time Arnold Pickering, 44, had gone on the run.

He and armed robber Thomas Moffett, 51, had left HMP Kennet in Liverpool at 9.30am on Saturday morning and were due back at around 4.40pm the same day.

Swastika-tattooed Moffett was arrested around 9pm on Sunday in Blackburn, Lancashire, for being unlawfully at large.

 Merseyside Police say Pickering was arrested at an address in Oldham at around 11.45am on Monday.

Pickering is serving a life sentence for stabbing to death a 55-year-old man, wrongly identified as a paedophile, in Oldham in 1990.

He had absconded twice earlier during his sentence, but later handed himself in again on both occasions.

His disappearance came just two weeks after armed robber Michael Wheatley, known as "Skullcracker", absconded from Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, while on temporary release.

Michael Alcock was released from HMP Kennet after serving a two-a-half-year prison sentence. He said Pickering was asked by fellow inmates if he would abscond.

He told Sky News: "When he was asked by certain individuals, if he was going to come back he just shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

"Some of these lads don't want to be released from jail. Life is good to them in jail they don't want to be released back into the community with bills, worries and stress. They are institutionalised.

"Some people can't cope with the outside world and I personally think that's what's happened with this man."

Mr Alcock said Justice Minister Chris Grayling would be wrong to radically reform the current system because of some high-profile absconders.

"Temporary release for some people means making ties back with your family, finding work, finding re housing, resettling back into the community. 

"I've just been released today and the world is just going a million miles an hour."

Mr Grayling and the Prime Minister's official spokesman both said changes to the temporary release regime would be made "as soon as we can".

Mr Grayling told Sky News: "I don't mind the principle of somebody going out to do a day's work to get them back into the employment habit in preparation for release in a few weeks or few months' time.

"But the idea that we'd let serious criminals go and walk around town all day is simply unacceptable and that is something we're putting a stop to."

A statement issued by the Prison Officers Association said the current arrangements around open prisons involved "playing Russian roulette with public safety."

Open prisons house around 6,400 inmates, roughly 7.6% of the UK's total prison population. Figures show that of the 204 prisoners who absconded last year, 194 were being held in open prisons.

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