Convicted murderer Craig Black absconded from Leyhill because he felt paranoid about staff and inmates
A CONVICTED murderer walked out of Leyhill Open Prison because he was 'paranoid that members of staff and other inmates were talking about him,' a court heard.
Craig Black, 39, who killed a sailor from the royal yacht Britannia 19 years ago, also wanted to see his son, he explained after his arrest.
Black had been in the open jail for only ten days when he decided to abscond last month.
He walked from the jail at Tortworth to Cirencester, where he was arrested two days later after being recognised at a Tesco Express score.
At Gloucester Crown Court Black admitted escaping from lawful custody on July 15 and was sentenced to six months' jail.
But Judge Alastair McGrigor said the sentence was unlikely to make any difference to Black because he has probably put back his release date by at least a year as a result of the escape.
Prosecutor Julian Kesner said Black received a life sentence 18 years ago and as part of the process of preparing him for release on parole he was moved from a secure prison to Leyhill last month.
"Just over a week after his transfer there he simply walked out," said Mr Kesner. "This is something that inmates there can do by definition, it being an open prison.
"He absconded and it was not known where he had gone but, given his circumstances, he was sighted two days later on July 17 by Tesco in Cirencester.
"Police went there and he was arrested. He was taken to Cheltenham police station and interviewed and he accepted he had walked out.
"He offered little explanation except to say that he had been at Leyhill for a week and a half and he was feeling paranoid that members of staff and other inmates were talking about him.
"He had not been put under any pressure, he said, but he decided to simply walk out as he wanted to see his son who is in Marlborough.
"He said he walked a long way and had got as far as Cirencester when he was stopped by the police."
Black is now back in secure custody at Horfield Prison, said Mr Kesner.
Nick Fridd, defending, said: "He apologises for the inconvenience he has caused everybody. He was having difficulties coping at Leyhill. He has now returned to a closed prison where he is much happier.
"We anticipate his release date has been put back by as much as a year as a result of this."
Judge McGrigor told Black: "You knew you were going to be caught and returned to prison. It was a foolish thing for you to do. You knew you would be punished further.
"I consider those who are in open prisons must be discouraged from leaving them in this way. Six months' imprisonment is the appropriate sentence but from what I hear it will in fact make little difference to you."
Black was jailed for life after he had been convicted of the murder of sailor Perri Shiels, 22, a radio operator on the royal yacht Britannia, in Marlborough in August 1994.
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