Plymouth man with history of violence escapes private security firm's custody
QUESTIONS are to be asked in Parliament after a man with a history of violence escaped from private security contractors while in a police station yard.
The man, currently being held at Exeter Prison, appeared at Plymouth Magistrates' Court yesterday morning charged with escaping lawful custody.
The court heard the man, who The Herald has chosen not to name for legal reasons, had been appearing at Plymouth Crown Court on Wednesday and was being escorted back to prison.
En route staff from private security firm GEOAmey stopped off at Crownhill police station – which The Herald has learned was to allow the prisoner to use the toilet.
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However, before he was taken into the station he ran off – still handcuffed – climbed over a wire mesh fence and headed towards Crownhill shops.
A member of the public called police and the man was apprehended near the Co-operative store in Morshead Road.
Alison Seabeck, MP for Plymouth Moor View, said the incident raised concerns about private contractors taking up security work.
She said: "I will be asking Parliamentary questions both to seek more information about the number of incidents of this kind nationally, as well as to highlight this particular local case."
According to police, they were called at 12.25pm on Wednesday to be told the man had escaped GEOAmey's custody.
Despite his hands being cuffed at his front, he was able to climb over a wire-mesh fence surrounding part of the station, causing £500 worth of damage after a metal pole holding the mesh in place was ripped from its wall fitting.
Police said the man was grabbed by officers at 12.33pm, following alerts by a member of the public.
Crownhill police station – which has 15 cells – is currently being used as Plymouth police's main custody station while Charles Cross station's custody suite – with around 40 cells – is being refurbished.
At the man's court hearing yesterday magistrates were told the case had to be sent straight to Plymouth Crown Court. No plea was entered and the man was remanded in custody to appear there for a preliminary hearing on March 25. A second hearing has been listed for June 17.
The man had appeared at Crown Court on Wednesday having admitted assault causing actual bodily harm.
A GEOAmey spokesperson said: "We can confirm that on Wednesday March 13 a person absconded from custody at Crownhill police station. He was subsequently re-apprehended and is now safely in custody.
"We have begun an investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident and appropriate action will be taken once this investigation has been completed."
The man's escape comes only eight months after another man vanished from a police station.
On that occasion Craig Goldstone, aged 28, walked out of Charles Cross police station through an unlocked door while he was left unattended by a police officer. Goldstone, of no fixed address, is in custody awaiting sentence having admitted escaping from lawful custody.
In an even more serious case, violent child rapist Kelly Edney escaped from his prison guards at Derriford Hospital in December 2006. He attacked a woman in a car park and took her car, before being captured on the A38.