Hollesley Bay absconder serving life for armed robbery admits aggravated burglary at a pub while on the run

Paul Frankou (Oddysses)

Paul Frankou (Oddysses) - Credit: Archant

An armed robber serving a life sentence who absconded from Hollesley Bay open prison has admitted aggravated burglary at a pub after going on the run.

Paul Frankou also pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and escaping from lawful custody when he appeared at St Alban’s Crown Court via a video link from prison.

The 49-year-old had been on the run for three months until he was apprehended four days after burgling the Sow and Pigs pub in Thundridge, near Ware in Hertfordshire.

Initial reports to police said Frankou - who was known as Paul Oddysses when he went missing from Hollesley Bay on May 24 - entered the pub and demanded money from a member of staff.

However the pub worker is said to have refused and officers were told Frankou left with a bottle of whisky.

The incident occurred on August 24 just after midnight.

Frankou had been been serving a life term for attempted robbery and robbery with a firearm when he was risked assessed before being moved to Hollesley Bay in preparation for his release on licence.

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At the time Suffolk police said he links to Essex and London.

Frankou was finally caught in High Road, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire on August 28.

The Ford Fusion he was driving is said to have been stopped on a petrol station forecourt by police during a road stop-check.

Checks discovered the Ford Fusion had been previously stolen from Ilford, police said.

Following his guilty pleas at St Albans Crown Court Frankou was remanded back in custody until his sentencing which is scheduled to take place on Friday next week.

In July this year Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures showed the number of prisoners who absconded from Hollesley Bay had jumped by 50% since last year.

At the time Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said it underlined concerns that prisons should not be an easy place for potentially dangerous criminals.

The figures revealed 12 prisoners absconded from the open prison in the year to March 2014, up from eight the previous year and just three in 2011/2012.

Asked why an armed robber serving a life sentence had been considered low risk enough to be put in an open prison only to abscond the MoJ said it did not discuss individual cases.

However, it issued a statement from Prisons Minister Andrew Selous which read: “Open prisons are important tools in rehabilitating long-term offenders, but not at the expense of public safety.

“Absconds have reached record lows under this Government, falling by more than 80 per cent in the last 10 years, but we have not been complacent.

“We take each and every incident seriously, with the police contacted as a matter of urgency.

“Prisoners are not moved into open conditions until they are serving the last 24 months of their sentence and have passed a risk assessment.”