When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Let me back in, prisoner tells jail
9:30am Saturday 5th October 2013 in News
PRISON officials were left stunned when an armed robber knocked on the door and asked to be let in.
Timothy Stern, right, who was serving time for robbing an Oxford betting shop, escaped from a minimum-security prison near Bristol and asked to be let back into HMP Bullingdon, near Bicestser – so that he could be closer to his family.
Stern, of Blackbird Leys Road, Blackbird Leys, walked out of open prison HMP Leyhill, in Wotton-under-Edge near Bristol, on September 26.
Within a day, he walked up to the gates at Bullingdon and asked to be let in. Instead he was asked to sit on a grass verge for the police to arrive.
The move worked though – he is now locked up in Bullingdon with a longer sentence, meaning he will miss Christmas at home with his family. The 31-year-old was serving a three-and-a-half year sentence after admitting a knifepoint robbery at an Oxford betting shop on March 13 last year.
Cathy Olliver, prosecuting yesterday at Oxford Crown Court, said he was transferred from Bullingdon to an open prison – where prisoners have more freedom and cells are not locked – for good behaviour in August.
But she said Stern was unhappy at being so far away from his Oxford family and – after failing to get a transfer to HMP Spring Hill in Grendon Underwood, near Aylesbury – decided to escape.
Peter Du Feu, defending, said that after escaping from prison in Bristol, his client was on the loose for 24 hours.
He said he went to visit his partner and three children, before heading back to Bullingdon Prison.
The barrister said: “He knocked on the door and asked to be let back in.
“They said they couldn’t possibly let him in, but could he sit on the verge and wait for the police. The nature of open prisons is to try to integrate prisoners back into the community, which clearly he couldn’t do so far away. He was only free for 24 hours and then went back to Bullingdon. He has been there since.”
Mr Du Feu said his client was due to be released on December 21 this year and asked Judge Mary Jane Mowat if under the circumstances she would consider not extending his sentence.
But she told Stern this was impossible – whatever his reason for escaping had been – and sentenced him to a further 21 days inside.
Judge Mowat told him: “Prisoners have got to obey the rules.”