Murderer '˜found hiding under mattress' after escaping from Sussex prison

A murderer who spent nearly a week on the run after walking out of Ford prison had planned to go on a joyride around the country.

Convicted murderer Jeremy Brabrooke appeared in court today for sentencing. Pictures: Sussex Police
Convicted murderer Jeremy Brabrooke appeared in court today for sentencing. Pictures: Sussex Police

Convicted killer Jeremy Brabrooke was serving a life sentence at the open prison when he escaped in November this year. After an extensive search he was found hiding under a mattress several days later.

A court heard he decided to abscond after prison staff revoked his day release privileges, allegedly because he had been using an online dating website.

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Brabrooke, who was jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years for the murder of Doris Whitaker in 1988, pleaded guilty to escape at Lewes Crown Court this morning.

Brabrooke was captured on CCTV at a church in Havant

Now being held in the higher-security Lewes Prison, the 56-year-old appeared in court over videolink this morning for sentencing.

Prosecutor Richard Hearndon said: “The tariff part of the sentence expired some time ago and he was serving his sentence at Ford open prison.

“Part of the regime he was under was that he was allowed day release and he was working in a charity shop.”

Mr Hearndon told the court that a complaint had been made against Brabrooke and as a result his day release privileges were revoked.

Brabrooke absconded from HMP Ford, an open prison near Arundel

He continued: “Once the defendant had been informed of this he decided to walk out of prison, thereby absconding.”

The court heard that Brabrooke got on a train at Littlehampton and went to Havant, before travelling onward.

During his time on the run Brabrooke was captured on CCTV at a church in Havant.

“It wasn’t until November 20 - nearly a week later - that the defendant was found hiding under the mattress in the bedroom of the residential address in Hampshire.”

Brabrooke, speaking through his defence barrister Mark Kessler, said: “I got to such a stage where I thought there was no hope at all and I simply walked out.”

The court heard that he planned to travel around the country going from place to place.

When arrested by police, Brabrooke admitted the offence and was taken back into custody. He now resides in HMP Lewes, a closed prison.

Defence barrister Mr Kessler said that there were many factors that led to Brabrooke walking out of prison, and that his day release privileges being revoked was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’.

However he claimed that Brabrooke was not aware of the complaint against him when he walked out. Instead, he said that the privileges were taken away because of concerns that he was contacting people on an online dating website.

Judge Shani Barnes told Brabrooke: “I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like to spend 30+ years in custody waiting for somebody to decide you are going to be safe to be released into the community.

“You didn’t break out, it was a spontaneous frustration but equally you did not turn yourself back in and that obviously is not to your credit.”

She gave Brabrooke a sentence of two-and-a-half years for the escape offence. He will have to serve half of that sentence before he will be eligible for parole again.