Prisoner walks out of jail for two nights of passion with wife in luxury hotel - and gets caught after bragging on Facebook
Douglas Ward, who is serving time for a firearms offence, swaps his cell for a £110 a night executive room at a luxury hotel and enjoys two nights with his wife before being caught
Published 30/09/2015 | 08:25
A dangerous prisoner, who walked out of jail and checked into a luxury hotel for two nights, was only caught when he bragged about his excursion on Facebook.
Douglas Ward, 26, was serving five years for a firearms offence, when absconded from HMP North Sea Camp near Boston in Lincolnshire to enjoy a secret tryst with his wife.
Ward was so brazen about his escape that he took to social media to brag about what a good time he was having and posted pictures of he and his wife enjoying drinks from the mini-bar.
He even managed to get one night in the Cley Hall hotel in Spalding, Lincolnshire for free after complaining to the manager that he had been injured when a chair in his room collapsed.
But despite missing four roll calls each day inside the open prison, Ward was only caught when hotel staff looked him up on Facebook and spotted his status as a “serving prisoner”.
Michael Cranmer-Brown, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court: “On 30 August this defendant telephoned the hotel and made a booking for a room. He wanted the room that night. He said he wanted one of the executive rooms. He was given room one. The price was £110 a night.
“He gave his own name and provided credit card details. He didn't arrive until 6 pm. He was in the company of a female and he gave an address in Darlington.”
Mr Cranmer-Brown said that Ward's wife used the name Ellen Thompson when she checked in, adding: “The hotel manager described her as having an orange complexion as if she used fake tan and what he took to be very large breast implants.
“They took the room and the next morning the manager saw the female. The room was tidy and clean but there was some damage to an antique chair. The front leg of the chair was completely broken.
“She said this defendant had been sitting at the desk doing some work when the chair collapsed underneath him and he had damaged his leg in the process. She claimed he had gone to hospital.
“The hotel manager was concerned there might be some compensation claim or complaint so said they would be excused the cost of the room.
“She said they were unable to drive back to Darlington because the defendant had a swollen ankle.
“Later the manager saw the defendant arriving wearing a simple crepe bandage on his leg that he thought was not of the type that would be given out by a hospital.
“He was a bit suspicious. The manager was concerned there may be some adverse comments on Facebook and made some inquiries.
“He discovered some photographs had been uploaded on Facebook which showed the two of them consuming the contents of the mini-bar and noticed that the defendant's Facebook profile showed he was living at HMP Strangeways.
“Someone had asked if he was out to which he replied that he was only out for the day.”
Mr Cranmer-Brown went on: “At North Sea Camp there are rolls calls at 5am, 5pm, 8pm and midnight. He was able to evade these checks. It is not entirely clear whether he returned or he just wasn't checked.”
The court heard that hotel staff had altered the authorities and arrangements were made for Ward to be moved to a more secure jail.
Ward ,26, originally from Darlington, admitted three charges of escaping from prison on 30 August, 31 August and 8 September. He also admitted damaging a cell door.
He was jailed for 15 months to run concurrently with the 64 month sentence he was originally given at Bolton Crown Court in 2010 when he was convicted of a firearms offence.
He was also ordered to pay a £900 Criminal Courts Charge and a £100 Victim Surcharge.
Recorder Paul Mann QC , passing sentence, told him: “There are serious aspects to this case. Your actions had the potential to undermine prison discipline at that prison and your behaviour has the effect of undermining public confidence in the prison service.”
John Wilford, defending, said Ward had been a “model prisoner” but became frustrated when his planned release date was put back.
“He was frustrated because he had not had a lot of contact with his wife and five year old child. That was why he came to leave the prison.
“It was not very sophisticated but it was a breach of the trust placed on him in open conditions.”
The scandal is the latest to hit the Category D open prison in the Lincolnshire Fen village of Freiston. The jail houses 420 inmates including a number of convicted murderers approaching the end of a life sentence.
Earlier this year North Sea Camp inmate Alan Wilmot ,49, was convicted of raping a woman he met while on day from release from a life sentence for multiple rapes.
He had previous been branded a danger to women.
In June 2013 convicted rapist Nicky Suddons, then 26, carried out a terrifying knife-point sex attack on a woman dog walker in a Grantham park after being deemed safe enough to work in the community while serving a life sentence for seven previous sex attacks.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "We have always been clear that offenders who abscond from open prisons will face consequences - this case is evidence of that commitment.
"Open prisons provide the most effective means for risk-assessed prisoners to be tested in the community before release. This is to reduce their chances of reoffending upon release.
"Absconds are down 75% over the last ten years but each and every incident is taken seriously.”