Anger over killer's escape

ANSWERS have been demanded over how a convicted murderer escaped custody whilst on a day trip from a Suffolk jail.Members of the public are being warned not to approach Mark Ryder, who was nearing the end of a 15-year sentence at Highpoint Prison, near Haverhill, when he went missing on Thursday afternoon.

ANSWERS have been demanded over how a convicted murderer escaped custody whilst on a day trip from a Suffolk jail.

Members of the public are being warned not to approach Mark Ryder, who was nearing the end of a 15-year sentence at Highpoint Prison, near Haverhill, when he went missing on Thursday afternoon.

Last night, West Suffolk MP Richard Spring called for an investigation to be launched into the matter, which he said was “very concerning”.

“This is someone who has committed murder whilst on release from prison, and is now on the loose again,” he said.


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“The fact he has been allowed to wander around Cambridge is stupendous, and there seems to have been a serious misjudgement about this individual, particularly at a time when confidence in the criminal justice system is so very low.”

Ryder, a former market trader, was serving a term in Lewes Prison for stealing cars when he escaped from guards during a boating trip in 1991.

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He evaded capture until 1993, when he shot and killed his childhood friend Stuart McCue outside a social club in Brighton.

The 37-year-old, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in October 2004, was on a “town visit” to Cambridge when he escaped from prison officers in the Debenhams store, in the Grafton Centre, at around 2.30pm.

“I have so far been given no explanations as to how this has happened, and there needs to be an investigation into this matter,” said Mr Spring.

“Prisons are very overcrowded and we hear that people are going to be moved to open prisons. But when a situation like this arises, it is hard to have confidence in the ability of the Home Office.”

The Prison Service said it allows suitable prisoners nearing the end of their sentence a Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL), but puts inmates - especially those serving live sentences - through a rigorous risk-assessment before allowing them such opportunities.

A spokeswoman last night confirmed an internal inquiry into Ryder's disappearance was underway, but said the incident was not classed as an 'escape'.

“A prisoner from HMP Highpoint failed to return from a town visit on October 12,” she said.

“This is not an escape or an abscond, it is classed as a licence failure.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said they were doing everything they could to find Ryder, who was last seen wearing a light-blue long-sleeved Lonsdale sweatshirt, blue jeans and white trousers.

He has shaven hair and a faded tattoo of a cross on his forehead.

“We are attempting to locate him,” said the spokeswoman. “If someone does see him, they should not approach him, but should dial 999 immediately.”

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