Hunt for rapist who walked out of prison: Serial attacker vanishes from the 'Savoy of Slammers'
Sean Cawthray, 41, left Leyhill Open Prison in south Gloucestershire
In 2002 Cawthray attempted to kidnap 14-year-old girl at a bus stop
Police advise public to dial 999 immediately if they see him
Previously been jailed for four years in 1990 for rape and attempted rape, and for eight years in 1993, after a further rape conviction
14:29 GMT, 1 January 2013
10:32 GMT, 2 January 2013
Warning: Sean Cawthray, 41, is being hunted by police after walking out of an open jail
A sex attacker is being hunted by police after vanishing from a notorious open prison.
Sean Cawthray, 41, was locked up indefinitely in 2002 after attempting to kidnap a 14-year-old girl at a bus stop. He had previously served two jail terms for rape.
Yet he was sent to the low-security prison HMP Leyhill in Gloucestershire, a category D prison for ‘low-risk’ inmates.
Cawthray was seen in the prison at 5.30pm on Sunday. He is thought to have left at some point during the following three hours. Police yesterday admitted the rapist was a ‘potential risk’ and warned members of the public not to approach him, but to dial 999 immediately.
A police spokesman said: ‘Officers work closely with HMP Leyhill and other police forces to track down absconders promptly and keep any potential risk to the public to a minimum.’
Cawthray was jailed for four years in 1990 for rape and attempted rape, and for a second time for eight years in 1993, after a further rape conviction.
He was then given an indeterminate sentence at Leeds Crown Court in December 2002 for attempted kidnap. He accosted his teenage victim in a bus shelter in the village of Kippax, east of the city, and dragged her by the hair into an alley as passers-by looked on.
The court heard the kidnap attempt was foiled by seven-year-old Harvey Jordan, who was playing in a nearby garden and shouted to his grandfather upon hearing the teenager’s stifled screams. The grandfather, Edmund Wheeler, shouted at Cawthray who let the girl go and ran off. He was arrested within an hour.
Missing: Cawthray was last seen at Leyhill Open Prison in south Gloucestershire at 5.30pm on Sunday and is believed to have left the unit before 8.30pm
Cawthray, who was living in Leicester
at the time, had grown up in Leeds and was visiting childhood haunts
when he pounced on the girl. He told police he did not know what he
planned to do with the victim.
Judge James Spencer QC imposed an
indeterminate sentence with a minimum recommendation of five years
because of the ‘level of risk posed to young women’.
He was told he would not be released until it was satisfied he no longer posed a risk, and would then be on licence for life.
Leyhill, a minimum-security jail at
Wootton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, was built as a US military hospital
in the Second World War, and was converted into a prison in 1946. It
was once dubbed ‘The Savoy of Slammers’ for its cushy regime.
It houses 508 inmates deemed to have
made progress at more secure institutions or who are approaching the end
of their sentences. It has no perimeter fence and hundreds of inmates
have walked out over the past 15 years.
Police believe Cawthray may have
travelled back to Leicestershire and Leeds following his escape. He is
5ft 10in tall and of medium build, with short brown hair and blue eyes.
He was last seen wearing silver trainers, cream combat trousers and a
light blue top.