UK & World News
Hunt For Killer On Run From Jail For Third Time
Police are hunting a convicted murderer who has gone on the run from prison for the third time.
Arnold Pickering, 44, and armed robber Thomas Moffett, 51, walked out of HMP Kennet in Liverpool at 9.30am on Saturday morning.
The pair were due back at around 4.40pm the same day. Their disappearance was reported to Merseyside Police at about 7pm.
Moffett was arrested around 9pm on Sunday in Blackburn, Lancashire, for being unlawfully at large but Pickering has not been found.
Pickering is serving a life sentence for stabbing to death a 55-year-old man, incorrectly identified as a paedophile, in Oldham, Greater Manchester, in 1990.
He last absconded in December 2009 when he was let out on day release from HMP Kirkham to work on the bins in Manchester city centre.
The murderer handed himself in four days later in Motherwell, Scotland.
Pickering had previously gone missing from Strangeways while serving time for a separate conviction but handed himself after six hours.
The killer is described as around 5ft 11in tall, medium build with blue eyes. He has tattoos on his arms and chest.
Moffett is serving an indeterminate sentence for a string of robberies carried out in Blackburn, Lancashire, in 2006.
He armed himself with a nail gun and then raided six off-licences.
The pair were risk assessed as suitable for temporary release on licence by the Ministry of Justice.
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 people can't cope with the outside world and I personally think that's what's happened with this man."
Mr Alcock said the 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," he said.
Pickering's disappearance comes 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.
Downing Street said changes to the temporary release regime would be made "as soon as we can".
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We are going to seek to do that as quickly as possible. It is of course important that we get to the bottom of exactly what has happened in each of these cases.
"The changes we want to do in terms of greater restrictions and more robust monitoring and the ending of town leave, all the things the Secretary of State for Justice was talking about today, we will seek to do that as soon as we can."
Asked whether David Cameron regretted not putting the reforms in place sooner, the spokesman said: "He thinks it's right that we have set out the changes that we already have. But in light of recent events is it right to look again, see whether we can do this quicker? Of course it is."
Justice Secretary Chris 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 was putting the public at risk.
"The POA has been raising concerns for years claiming that the tick box mentality of the current system was not fit for purpose and was playing Russian roulette with public safety."
The statement said the POA questioned whether measures being outlined by the government could be implemented given the "current prison population and staffing crisis".
Officers are appealing to anyone with information to call Merseyside Police on either 0151 777 3803 or 0151 777 3891, or via 101.