July 2006

Escaped child rapists recaptured

John Elms, left, and Martin Aspinall 

Two paedophile rapists who vanished from an open prison were recaptured today.

John Elms, 34 and Martin Aspinall, 46, were arrested near a hotel in Usk, Monmouthshire, south Wales, said a Gwent Police spokeswoman.

They were found about 2.40pm today near the Rat Trap Hotel, Llangview.

Officers were questioning the two registered sex offenders, both of whom were on life sentences, at Newport Central Police station.

They had been on the run from HMP Prescoed, near Usk, since Friday evening.

Elms was jailed at the Old Bailey in March 1996 for raping a teenager at knifepoint. He previously served a four-year sentence for indecently assaulting a 15-year-old schoolgirl. At the time the judge described him as a “danger to the public”.

Aspinall was jailed in December 1992 for raping a minor and kidnap. A Prison Service spokeswoman said she could not confirm reports that the offence was carried out against a five-year-old girl.

Earlier, an MP called on the Prison Service to remove sex offenders from an open jail after the two went on the run.

It is not the first time prisoners have gone missing from Prescoed. The latest escape will outrage the local community which has protested against housing sex offenders in its midst.

Monmouth MP David Davies said: “The key thing is the prison authority says nobody goes in there if they are not safe.

“The moment they get out they are dangerous. Therefore we have been misled.”

He called on prison authorities to apologise and said any other dangerous paedophiles in Prescoed should be moved to a secure prison.

Prescoed prisoners can keep their own room keys, according to the prison’s website.

Gwent alerted police in areas where the men are known to have links. Elms has contacts in London and Hampshire and Aspinall has contacts in Bolton and Lancashire.

Prescoed’s website says the “purpose built hutted camp”, with an operational capacity of 170, was built in the 1930s.

Offenders are sent there while they are being rehabilitated before release.

It says Prescoed – a satellite of nearby Usk prison – has “six modern, purpose-built, detached living units each of 20 single rooms. Each inmate has his own room key.”

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “Prisoners undergo a risk assessment before being considered as suitable for open conditions.

“We aim to protect the public by ensuring prisoners are all prepared to return to the community and open conditions are an important part of that process.”

Last month convicted murderer David Cook, 59, handed himself in after spending more than a week on the run from Prescoed.

Gareth Tuvnes, 24, was jailed for four years in January 2005 after he absconded from Prescoed and went on a month-long crime spree, stealing the contents of mailbags while at large.