‘I’m amazed he went to an open prison’ – victim of Hollesley Bay absconder speaks out

Mark Heanan, pictured top right, has absconded from Hollesley Bay prison, Pictured, top left is Gord

Mark Heanan, pictured top right, has absconded from Hollesley Bay prison, Pictured, top left is Gordon Bailey, Heanan's victim. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

The victim of a violent criminal has spoken of his “amazement” upon learning his attacker had been able to abscond from a Suffolk open prison.

Gordon Bailey after he was attacked by Mark Heanan in 2009. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Gordon Bailey after he was attacked by Mark Heanan in 2009. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

Gordon Bailey was subjected to a “vicious, prolonged and cowardly attack” at the hands of Mark Heanan in July 2009.

His attacker was handed an indeterminate sentence in August 2010 but absconded from Hollesley Bay on Tuesday night. Mr Bailey, who was 64 and working as a taxi driver in Kent, at the time of the attack, was shocked to learn he had absconded.

“I’m amazed he went to an open prison,” he added.

“His record speaks for itself. He needs to be locked up in a secure prison until his time is up.”

Mark Heanan. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Mark Heanan. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

On the night of the attack, Mr Bailey had driven Heanan and a companion to their destination when he was asked to handover the keys to his car.

He refused and was subjected to a prolonged assault, leaving him with serious facial injuries. Heanan ran off with Mr Bailey’s taxi takings.

Speaking after Heanan’s sentencing, Det Sgt Miles Bishop said: “This was a vicious, prolonged and cowardly attack. Mr Bailey was in no position to defend himself yet Heanan continued the assault with the intention of causing him serious harm. Mr Bailey suffered serious injuries; it is to his credit that he has been able to assist our investigation and help us produce the evidence that has put Heanan behind bars.”

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Heanan pleaded guilty to wounding with intent and was told he must serve a minimum of three years, seven months.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has reiterated his previous concerns about placing violent offenders serving indeterminate sentences in Hollesley Bay and said he would again raise the matter with the criminal justice board.

“It seems a strange decision for someone who has a violent conviction to be put in an open prison, and one does have to question whether that’s appropriate.” he added. “There’s a public safety issue but also the burden on police time if they go missing.”

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Public protection is our top priority. When an abscond takes place, police are immediately notified and are responsible for locating the offender.

“Those who do abscond are returned to much tougher, closed prisons where they will have to serve additional time.”

Heanan, 30, is white, 6ft tall, of medium build, with brown hair and a tattoo on his neck. He was last seen wearing a blue polo shirt, khaki shorts and black flip flops. Members of the public are advised not to approach him.

Anyone with information should call Suffolk police on 101.

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