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‘He needed help, he was not fit enough to return to jail’
LITTLEMORE Hospital escapee Ian McLean has been found hanging in a prison cell days before he was due to face a Polish court that would send him back to Britain.
McLean, 44, was serving a life sentence for stabbing his former partner when he walked out of an unlocked unit at Littlemore Mental Hospital and went on the run to a town on Poland’s Baltic coast last month.
He was caught within eight days and was facing an extradition hearing in a Polish court when he was found hanging in a prison cell last week. Although rushed to hospital, McLean was declared brain dead and died on August 14.
Last night his grieving mother Moira Henderson revealed she believed McLean fled Britain and hanged himself because a psychiatrist at Littlemore, where he had been transferred for mental health treatment, had ruled he was fit enough to return to prison.
And she added the reason he went to Kolobrzeg – a town of 50,000 people, 930 miles from Oxford – was because he had developed a friendship with a Polish woman working as a cleaner at Littlemore.
Mrs Henderson, 68, said: “I am absolutely devastated.
“I have not spoken to him since he was in Poland but he wrote me a letter and he told me he was sorry and he just could not stand it any longer.”
She said her son was originally in a prison psychiatric unit after his arrest by the Polish Policja but was moved to a conventional holding cell in the city of Koszalin in the days before his scheduled extradition hearing on August 13.
He was allowed to keep laces in his shoes and officials told her he was hanging for about nine minutes before he was discovered, she said.
The pensioner and her brother Billy Mitchell flew to Poland but were told by doctors he was brain dead. They returned to Britian last Wednesday, learning that same day he had died.
Mrs Henderson, who lives in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, added: “In his letter he told me a psychiatrist (at Littlemore) had told him he was good enough to go back to prison about two weeks before he escaped. He needed help – he was not fit enough to go back to prison.
“He was hoping for parole next year. When he was going to be released from Littlemore he was coming back here to live.
“Ian was looking forward to it but then the doctor told him he was fine to go back to prison and he was on the phone straight away, agitated.”
She said she was convinced he could not face a return to prison.
Her son had also developed a friendship with a cleaner at the hospital, she said. She was in Poland on holiday when he absconded.
Mrs Henderson continued: “I am very, very angry that he was able to escape from Littlemore.
“I am not saying he was an angel but he had a good side to him. He had a heart of gold.”
Mrs Henderson said he had received no contact from the Ministry of Justice or Oxford Health over her son’s death or help to “get him back to bury my son”.
The Ministry of Justice said it was not responsible for repatriating the body.
Oxford Health refused to comment on the new details of his escape. Spokeswoman Carrie-Ann Wade Williams said: “We have written to Mrs Henderson to offer our condolences.
“All the issues raised are covered in the investigation we are currently carrying out.
“The remit of our investigation may need to be revised to take into account this latest sad development.”
- December 2004: Ian McLean is sentenced to life after admitting wounding with intent over the knife attack on former partner Michelle Storer. He serves part of his sentence in Bullingdon prison but is transferred for mental health treatment at a facility in Milton Keynes and then Littlemore Mental Hospital in Oxford
- July 8, 2013: 1am: McLean walks out of the unlocked Lambourn House unit at Littlemore and catches a minicab to
- St Pancras Station
- 6.50am: Boards a Eurostar to Brussels using a passport in his birth name of Ian Mitchell a doctor at Littlemore had helped him get. He arrives in the Belgian capital before Littlemore staff even realise he has gone. He travels to Kolobrzeg in Poland via Berlin
- July 15: British police learn where he is and tip off their Polish counterparts, who arrest McLean under a European Arrest Warrant. He is held in custody awaiting the extradition process
- August 2013: Due to face an extradition hearing on August 13, McLean is moved to a holding cell in a Polish prison and is found hanging
- August 14: Brain dead, his heart gives out and he dies in hospital