Prisoner escaped from shift in canteen

A prisoner escaped from Armley Jail in Leeds when he was trusted to work outside in the staff canteen, a court heard.

Thomas Parkin was doing 21 months for two offences of attempted robbery but had become classified as a Category D prisoner for his good behaviour.

As a result he was temporarily allowed to leave the prison between 9am and 2pm while he worked in the staff canteen to assist him in obtaining a catering qualification, Patrick Gallagher, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court.

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But on January 24 when he should have returned to the main prison he failed to do so.

He was arrested after 10 days and told officers he had been staying with friends while he tried to sort some problems out. He said he had “things in his head” he wanted to resolve.

Tim Jacobs, representing Parkin, said he suffered from a depressive condition and personality disorder which needed daily medication but he had difficulty obtaining it sometimes, including that day, and believed that had affected him.

Since his return to custody that had been sorted out and his medication was more regulated but he was also now back on a stricter regime. He had been due for release in April but had already had an extra 12 days added by the prison putting back his release.

Parkin, 23, of Devonshire Gardens, Leeds, admitted escape and was sentenced to six months consecutive to his current sentence.

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC told him: “You were trusted and granted a daily licence to go and work in the officers’ mess outside the normal limits of the prison and on January 24, rather than return as you were obliged to do, you say you went for a walk and kept walking.

“I accept this was not planned but opportunistic on the day but offences of this sort always cause disruption in the prison service.”