Alleged Hollesley Bay absconder found after asking for directions back to prison

Bawdsey Quay.
Photo by George Copping

Bawdsey Quay. Photo by George Copping - Credit: George Copping

An escapee from Hollesley Bay prison was recaptured after seeking directions back to the open jail when he apparently got lost, it has emerged.

Convicted arsonist Liam Bourne-Hill was caught after asking for help at Bawdsey Quay early yesterday morning.

He approached a member of the public and asked them the way back to Hollesley Bay open prison which had listed him as missing less than four hours earlier.

After a conversation took place, Bourne-Hill left the quay to walk back. However, the member of the public recognised Bourne-Hill having previously seen an appeal to find him on Suffolk Constabulary’s Facebook page.

Police were called and officers were despatched. The 29-year-old was found heading back towards the prison on the road between Bawdsey and Hollesley. He had been serving an indeterminate sentence for arson with intent to endanger life.


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Anne-Marie Breach, a spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary confirmed Bourne-Hill was arrested on suspicion of escaping or absconding from lawful custody and taken to Martlesham police investigation centre.

He remained there throughout the day before he was charged with escape from lawful custody.

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He is due to appear via video-link before magistrates in Ipswich this morning.

The constabulary said it would be making no comment on the circumstances surrounding Bourne-Hill’s arrest.

Police initially issued an appeal to find Bourne-Hill at 6.10am yesterday.

Officers had been contacted by the prison at 4.20am which reported Bourne-Hill was no longer at the premises.

It is understood he had been present for the roll call the previous night, but an overnight spot check discovered he was missing.

Following his arrest Suffolk Constabulary issued a statement which read: “At 8am police received a call from a member of the public who believed they had seen a man matching Bourne-Hill’s description in Bawdsey and he was detained by officers a short while later between Bawdsey and Hollesley. “Police would like to thank members of the public and the media for their assistance with this appeal.”

Although no other details about the nature of Bourne-Hill’s conviction for arson were released it is understood it related to a fire in Southsea, Hampshire, in 2010.

When prisoners who have absconded from open prisons are recaptured they are moved back into secure jails.

Prison service officials have previously stressed that all prisoners are thoroughly assessed for their suitability to be moved to open prisons prior to being relocated.

Regarding Bourne-Hill’s case a Prison Service spokesman said: “A HMP Hollesley Bay prisoner absconded late on Tuesday, September 8, and was returned to custody early the following morning.

“Absconds are down 75% over the last 10 years but each and every incident is taken seriously and the police are contacted urgently.”

Bourne-Hill is the second Hollesley Bay prisoner to have gone missing in just over two weeks.

Alex Winsor, who has 21 previous convictions for 34 offences, fled on August 20, sparking a police manhunt.

The 30-year-old serial burglar was recaptured in the Hollesley area after less than three hours on the run.

He had arrived at Hollesley Bay in March, five months after being given a four-and-a-half year sentence for burglary and handling stolen goods in Cambridge.

He was subsequently charged with, and admitted to, escaping from lawful custody and having prohibited items – a mobile phone and a charger - inside a prison.

His case was committed by Ipswich magistrates to the town’s crown court where he is currently awaiting sentencing.

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