Hollesley fugitive was described as “very dangerous” by court

AN arsonist on the run from a Suffolk jail was described as “very dangerous” when sentenced to life imprisonment for trying to burn down a block of flats, it has emerged.

Fugitive Edward MacDonald has not been seen since failing to return to Hollesley Bay open prison, near Woodbridge nearly a month ago. He had been behind bars for 16 years.

The 46-year-old disappeared after being allowed to carry out a community work placement at premises in Ransomes Euro Park, Ipswich.

MacDonald vanished less than four weeks after murderer Paul Flint absconded from the same prison after being released to work in Ipswich on June 2.

The 47-year-old killed the occupant of a house he was burgling in Islington in 1989. He was recaptured in Bristol on June 7.

The EADT has discovered MacDonald was serving life for endangering the lives of residents by trying to burn down a block of flats in Sussex.

At his sentencing at Lewes Crown Court in July 1996, Judge Richard Brown told him: “This offence could have had disastrous consequences.

Most Read

“The medical reports indicate to me that if you are at liberty you are likely to be very dangerous and put other people’s lives at risk. The only appropriate sentence one of life imprisonment.”

MacDonald, formerly of Eastbourne, used a pot of paint and unopened mail to start the blaze on a communal staircase.

A visitor was injured when he spotted the fire and struggled to put it out.

The court also heard MacDonald, who has links to Leiston, had previous convictions, including one for attempted arson.

Yesterday Suffolk police renewed their appeal to trace MacDonald and warned people not to approach him.

He has been missing since 4.45pm on Thursday, June 28 .

Officers have alerted other constabularies, listed him on the police national computer, and carried out address checks. However, so far there has been no trace of MacDonald.

He is described as white, 5ft 9in tall, of medium build, with cropped grey hair and has a Scottish accent. He has a scar on his right arm.

MacDonald has family in Great Yarmouth and other contacts in Leiston and East Sussex.

Anne-Marie Breach, a spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary, said: “It is possible he may be in any of these areas or still in the vicinity of Ipswich.

“If anyone sees MacDonald they should phone the police with the details. They should not approach him or take any further action.”

Anyone with information should telephone police on 101.

In response to MacDonald absconding, a Prison Service spokeswoman said: “Prisoners located in open conditions have been rigorously risk assessed and categorised as being of low risk to the public.

“Over 96 per cent of prisoners who abscond are re-captured and returned to custody.”

Last year a study found that between 1995 and 2009, 261 inmates had absconded from Hollesley Bay.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter