Ford prisoner wanted to return behind bars

A LAG who escaped from Ford Open Prison – because he wanted to be in a jail with bars – had his sentence slashed by top judges.

Declan Begley, 31, walked out of Ford last October after staff declined to send him back to the closed prison HMP Lewes from which he had been transferred the previous month.

Begley, who was serving a three-year term for robbery, had not ‘settled’ in the open conditions at Ford, Mr Justice Wilkie told London’s Appeal Court, and ‘took matters into his own hands’.

He was at large for several hours before he telephoned police and told them where to pick him up, the court heard – and achieved his wish when taken back to a closed prison.

Begley, of Crowborough Road, Hastings, was handed a six-month term at Lewes Crown Court in November last year after admitting escape.

That sentence was ordered to be served consecutively to the three-year sentence imposed for robbery last March.

Mr Justice Wilkie, sitting with Lord Justice Rix and Judge Charles Wide QC, halved his escape sentence to three months, describing the original term as ‘manifestly excessive’.

“He was at large for only a very short time,” said the judge. “He told the authorities where he was and arranged to be re-arrested.”

Begley had absconded in order to find himself back in closed prison conditions, the judge added.