Sunday 15 September 2019

After 16 years on the run, prisoner who created new life for himself in Ireland is finally caught going on holidays

Before and after: Spencer White, seen here in police pictures from 1999 and his arrest after 16 years on the run
Before and after: Spencer White, seen here in police pictures from 1999 and his arrest after 16 years on the run

Ben Mitchell

A man who was on the run from an open prison for 16 years and spent a large period living in Ireland, has been jailed after being caught while going on holiday to the Canary Islands.

Spencer White, from the Witterings area of Chichester, West Sussex, absconded from HMP Ford in July 1999 after being sentenced to three years for kidnapping an adult.

But on September 19 this year, the 39-year-old was stopped by police as he arrived at Lanzarote airport and was detained after being recognised as wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "It is believed that he has been living in southern Ireland and was apparently intending to take a short holiday on the island."

He was extradited back to the UK on October 1 where he was charged with escaping lawful custody and appeared at Crawley Magistrates' Court the following day.

He was remanded in custody to appear at Chichester Crown Court on October 23 where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to an additional 16 months in prison, on top of the two years and four months remaining on his original sentence.

The spokesman said: "He has not been returned to HMP Ford."

Pc Lewis Dines, from the investigation team into absconders from HMP Ford, said: "Spencer White has been a priority to locate from the moment he absconded, but he evaded immediate capture and disappeared off of our radar.

"Within the last year we received information about his possible location and, based on this, we were able to secure a European Arrest Warrant so that he could be arrested if found outside of the UK.

"I am delighted that after 16 years of evading authorities, he has been recaptured and returned to prison to serve out not only remainder of his original sentence, but an additional term as well.

"His capture and additional sentence send a message that we will not give up seeking absconders and when we put them back in front of the court they can expect further punishment."

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