08:00 Sunday 05 January 2014

Fresh criticism at Sudbury Prison

Written byJENNY MOODY

Sudbury Prison Sudbury Prison

A VIOLENT criminal was ‘allowed to walk out’ of an open prison near Uttoxeter, a court heard.

Staff at Sudbury Prison only noticed Anthony Maguire was missing when they found his cell empty.

The 25-year-old, from Coventry, had been serving an indeterminate sentence for wounding with intent.

Although the minimum he had to serve was 30 months, he was being housed in an open prison despite the fact he was not to be released until it was considered safe to do so.

He was jailed for three months, but Judge Richard Griffith-Jones said at Coventry Crown Court that the escape should not affect his release from his original sentence.

It comes as police are hunting the controversial prison’s latest escapee.

An appeal has been launched in a bid to trace 27-year-old Hirjot Janda who absconded on Boxing Day, less than two months into his 16-month sentence for burglary.

He is described as Asian, 6ft 2ins tall, of medium build, with short black hair and brown eyes.

It came three days after convicted killer Lee Wheeler failed to return to HMP Sudbury after being granted day release two days before Christmas.

The 33-year-old has served four years of a 10 year sentence he was given after being convicted of the manslaughter of childhood friend Leon Kerr in Birmingham in 2010.

Wheeler, formerly of Oldknow Road, Small Heath, was jailed after he admitted stabbing his friend in a row over a camcorder.

Detective Sergeant Neil Aston, from Force CID, said: “We are appealing to anyone who knows where Wheeler might be to come forward and contact us as soon as possible.”

Sudbury Open Prison has been widely criticised and is currently under review.

Derbyshire Police Federation chief Mark Pickard previously slammed the jail, saying it had gained a reputation of ‘letting people just walk out’.

Uttoxeter’s MP Andrew Griffiths has also voiced concerns about the number of absconders failing to return to the open prison and has raised the issue with his peers in Parliament.

He previously told the Post and Times: “It is deeply worrying when prisoners are escaping from Sudbury and then going on to commit further crimes.

“The local community has been given numerous reassurances on the safety of the prison and the low risk of the inmates it houses.

“However, there is clearly something wrong when the Ministry of Justice is deciding who is fit to be housed in any open prison like Sudbury.

“I have already raised my concerns with the Justice Minister but I think it is important that I write to the Justice Secretary and ask for an investigation into what is happening at Sudbury Prison.

“We cannot have a situation where Uttoxeter residents’ safety is being put at risk.”

Anyone with information on an absconder should call Staffordshire Police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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