Leyhill absconder Simon Hennessey recaptured in Australia after 15 years

Gazette Series: Leyhill Open Prison Leyhill Open Prison

A LEYHILL inmate jailed for life for stabbing his aunt to death has been recaptured 15 years after absconding from the open prison.

Simon Hennessey, 49, originally from Plymouth, was arrested by detectives investigating credit card fraud in Queensland, Australia.

When he was 14,Hennessey mutilated his aunt Mary Webber, 72, in a brutal knife attack at her home in Plymouth, stabbing her 70 times.

He pleaded guilty to killing her on the grounds that he was mentally ill.

Hennessey had served 20 years of a life sentence when he absconded from HMP Leyhill in December 1998. He had escaped from a number of prisons previously.

A Queensland Police spokeswoman said Hennessey had been charged with a number of fraud offences after being arrested in the town of Maroochydore.

"There is not much more we can say because of the court situation but we are aware that he is a wanted criminal in the UK," she said.

Australian detectives believe the fugitive had moved between Thailand, New Zealand and Queensland during his time on the run, using false identities.

He was arrested on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane by officers investigating a sophisticated credit card scam, running to tens of thousands of Australian dollars, in April.

Initially, Australian police had no idea their suspect was a wanted man 10,000 miles away in the UK. He had told investigators he was a New Zealander.

He appeared before Maroochydore Magistrates' Court on June 17 and is currently in custody pending his next hearing in July.

He faces a jail sentence if he is convicted of serious fraud offences and could be extradited to the UK.

Avon and Somerset Police have already contacted the Australian authorities to discuss his extradition.

"The Avon and Somerset Constabulary are aware of the situation and have been in contact with Queensland Police in Australia with a view to discussing an extradition,’’ a spokesman said.

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