Call for inquiry into prisoner's escape

COMMUNITY leaders have demanded answers to how a prisoner was allowed to escape from the clutches of healthcare staff while on an escorted visit.

Dave Gooderham

COMMUNITY leaders have demanded answers to how a prisoner was allowed to escape from the clutches of healthcare staff while on an escorted visit.

Convicted robber David Ambler went on the run in Brandon but just 24 hours later was detained by Metropolitan Police officers some 75 miles away in Stoke Newington, London.

Details of how the 31-year-old - who was serving a three-year sentence for robbery at a secure unit in London - absconded remain unclear with the health bosses in charge of him last night remaining tight-lipped.

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But in a community which recently suffered allegations of two rape attacks in one night, leaders admitted this was another blow to Brandon's shattered confidence.

Eddie Stewart, Forest Heath District Council's member champion for community safety, demanded answers over the incident - although felt there had been no risk to the local community.

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He said: “What I don't understand is why he was on walkabout. My opinion is that he couldn't have been guarded too well. I am surprised he was allowed to be on day release unless it was not thought that there was any chance he would abscond.

“I would imagine there would be some kind of inquiry or investigation and I hope lessons will be learned, although we are unlikely to ever know why he was allowed to come to Brandon or how he absconded.

“I am not worried from a safety point of view but coming so soon after other incidents in the town, this is not going to help the confidence in the town.”

Mr Stewart was referring to allegations that two women were raped in the town in just one night. Christopher Armstrong, 20, of no fixed abode, has been charged with three counts of rape - along with two charges of sexual assault - and is due to appear at Ipswich Crown Court tomorrow .

Ambler, who was said to have carried out some “odd jobs” in the town, was being escorted under guard to Brandon when he ran off along St Margaret's Drive at 11.45am on Thursday.

He was detained on Friday afternoon by Metropolitan Police officers and returned to prison. In between, police had searched the Brandon area where Ambler ran off and made house-to-house inquiries.

In a statement issued yesterday, a spokesman for East London NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The trust launched an immediate investigation into how the patient absconded. In line with the NHS Code of Confidentiality, it is the policy of the trust not to discuss any aspect of any individual's medical details.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said officers were not with him at the time of his escape and only became involved when the hunt began.

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