UK & World News

  • 22 June 2014, 12:17

Warning Over Mental Health Unit Absconder

Police have warned the public not to approach a man who absconded from a mental health unit at the weekend.

Anthony Knowles, 48, was on supervised leave from the John Howard Centre in Hackney, east London when he went missing, say police.

Knowle's disappearance is the latest from the facility after convicted killer and rapist Samuel Lee failed to return after being released for an authorised trip.

Lee was sentenced to life in prison for raping a woman suffering from cerebral palsy that he snatched from a north London park in 2000; ten years after he was jailed for manslaughter for stabbing a man to death.

Lee was captured three days later in Eastbourne, Sussex.

The issue of absconders has come under the spotlight in recent months after a series of appeals for help tracing criminals who have gone missing from open prisons.

Last week, four inmates went on the run from HMP Sudbury in Derbyshire in just five days.

But the most high-profile offender to go missing recently was the violent armed robber Michael Wheatley - known as Skullcracker.

Wheatly carried out a raid on a building society while on the run after being let out of the Standford Hill prison in Kent last month. He was later jailed for life.

A few weeks ago a Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Absconds have reached record lows under this Government - down 80% over the last 10 years - but each and every incident is taken seriously, with the police contacted as a matter of urgency.

"Open prisons and temporary licence are an important tool in rehabilitating long-term offenders but not at the expense of public safety."

Knowles was wearing a grey tracksuit and black cap when he was last seen. He is described as walking with a limp, is 5ft 8in, heavily built, has tattoos on both arms and a scar across his left eye.

Police have advised anyone to call 999 if they see him.

Advertisement