Convicted killer and robber abscond from HMP Kennet

Arnold Pickering (left) and Thomas Moffett Arnold Pickering (left) and Thomas Moffett failed to return to HMP Kennet on Saturday afternoon

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A search is under way after a convicted murderer and a robber absconded while out on day release from prison.

It is the third time Arnold Pickering, 44, from Greater Manchester, has gone on the run. He was jailed for life in 1991 after killing a man in Oldham.

He and another inmate, Thomas Moffett, 51, from Blackburn, convicted of a number of robberies, failed to return to HMP Kennet on Saturday afternoon.

People are urged not to approach them.

Pickering last absconded in December 2009 when he was let out on day release from HMP Kirkham to take part in a Prison Service project in which prisoners emptied bins for Manchester City Council.

In that case he handed himself in four days later in Motherwell, Scotland.

Pickering also previously escaped from Strangeways in Manchester before he went on to stab a man to death in Oldham in 1990. He was given a life sentence and ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years.

Merseyside Police said they believed both men could be in the Southport area.

Swastika tattoos

The force said both men left the Category C prison in Maghull at about 09:00 BST on Saturday on day release and had been due back at 16:30 BST.

It said the men's disappearance was reported to Merseyside Police at about 19:00 BST the same day and officers had since been "carrying out extensive inquiries" to find them.

A police spokesman said the two men had been deemed suitable for temporary release on licence by the Home Office, but urged anyone who saw them to call officers.

Police are also appealing to anyone with any information on either of the prisoners' whereabouts to call Merseyside Police on 0151 777 3803 or 0151 777 3891, or via 101.

Moffett, who is serving an indeterminate sentence for the robberies, is described as being about 5ft 10in tall, of medium build and with blue eyes. He has a scar on his right knee and tattoos of swastikas on his arms.

Pickering, originally from Chadderton, is described as being about 5ft 11in tall, also of medium build and with blue eyes. He has tattoos on his arms and chest.

The disappearances come weeks after Michael Wheatley, 55, known as the "Skull Cracker" was charged with carrying out an armed robbery after allegedly going on the run from an open prison in Kent.

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