'Running Man' robber jailed after nearly 13 years on the run

image copyrightNottinghamshire Police
image captionAmbrose O'Neill was sentenced in his absence in 2008

A violent robber who went on the run for nearly 13 years has finally been caught and jailed.

Ambrose O'Neill - dubbed "The Running Man" due to his ability to evade capture - skipped his 2008 trial over an attack on an antiques dealer.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison in his absence but spent years at large, until police got a tip-off he was in hiding in Lincolnshire.

The 42-year-old was arrested on Friday and is now beginning his sentence.

Nottinghamshire Police said in 2007, O'Neill, of Ludgate Close in Arnold, knocked on his victim's front door in Seagrave, Leicestershire, posing as a pizza delivery man.

When his victim opened the door, O'Neill pushed him over, punched him in the face and demanded he open a safe, threatening to kill him.

But he ultimately left empty-handed and was later arrested.

O'Neill attended the first day of his trial at Leicester Crown Court but then went on the run.

'Laughing at police'

Police said they launched Operation Gladiolus in December 2020 in a bid to track him down.

PC James Gill, from Nottinghamshire Police's "wanted squad", said: "We knew he had changed his appearance and lived in an area where people do not know him and he had an assumed identity," he said.

"He was laughing at the police, so we were determined to do everything to find him."

A major breakthrough came from an anonymous tip-off suggesting O'Neill may be living with a woman in the Wyberton area, in Lincolnshire.

Police narrowed it down to a house in Causeway and arrested the "surprised" O'Neill in the early hours of Friday.

image copyrightNottinghamshire Police
image captionPC James Gill worked in his free time to bring O'Neill to justice, Nottinghamshire Police said

Officers also arrested a 41-year-old woman on suspicion of assisting an offender. She remains in custody.

O'Neill is due to appear at Leicester Crown Court on 29 January, where his sentence could be extended, the force added.

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