Prison absconder left to see sick gran – but stayed on run for four months

Hollesley Bay absconder Jody Stones

Jody Stones walked out of Hollesley Bay prison on May 7 - Credit: Archant/Suffolk Constabulary

A prolific offender who spent 130 days on the run from Hollesley Bay prison has been sentenced to another 10 months behind bars.

Jody Stones was picked up by an associate the morning after walking away from the open prison, near Woodbridge, at about 8pm on May 7.

Jody Stones

Stones was jailed for nine years in February 2018 for carrying out three burglaries in the space of a week in Peterborough the previous August - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

More than four months later, on September 14, he was arrested on suspicion of other offences in Hertfordshire and returned to higher security conditions at Peterborough prison.

The 37-year-old told police he absconded in order to visit the bedside of his terminally ill grandmother, who has since been discharged from hospital.

On Thursday, Stones appeared before Ipswich Crown Court to admit escaping lawful custody and receive added time on top of a nine-year stretch for burglary.

Prison officials had already pushed his release date back from August to December next year as a result of the offence.

Stones was jailed in February 2018 for carrying out three burglaries in the space of a week in Peterborough the previous August.

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Isobel Ascherson, mitigating, said he had worked hard to get transferred to open conditions, but arrived at Hollesley Bay without money, a change of clothing or any other belongings.

Despite working for two weeks in the kitchen and three weeks in the laundry, Stones was still without money and began borrowing from fellow inmates, Miss Ascherson told the court.

As a result, she said, he was put under increasing pressure to smuggle in contraband, and had already been found in possession of a prohibited item by the time he requested a transfer.

Miss Ascherson said Stones had made repeated requests to leave Hollesley Bay before receiving news that his grandmother was receiving end-of-life care.

She said he made further requests for a special purpose licence to visit her bedside, but was refused the opportunity, having previously been turned down for release on licence to work outside the prison.

Miss Ascherson said there had been issues with illicit alcohol consumption and "escalating violence" at the prison, resulting in one inmate's nose being bitten off, in the lead up to Stones walking out on May 7.

Recorder Jeremy Benson QC told Stones: "I accept your grandmother was ill, but it's clear that there must have come a time, very shortly after May 7, when you would have realised that she wasn't receiving end-of-life care – but you remained at large until September 14."