Sussex

Spencer White: Fugitive caught in Lanzarote after 16 years on the run

Then and now - Fugitive Spencer White in 1999 and 2015 Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Then and now: Spencer White in 1999 and 2015

A man who fled from an open prison 16 years ago is back in custody after he was caught trying to take a holiday in Lanzarote, police have said.

Spencer White, from the Witterings area of Chichester, absconded from HMP Ford in West Sussex in July 1999.

The 39-year-old, who was convicted of kidnapping an adult, disappeared eight months into a three-year sentence.

After being recognised at Lanzarote Airport on 19 September he was stopped, detained and flown back to the UK.

At Chichester Crown Court on 23 October he admitted escaping lawful custody.

He was sentenced to 16 months, to be served on top of the two years and four months he had remaining on his original sentence.

Police believe White had been living in the Republic of Ireland and was intending to take a short break in the Canary Islands.

'We will not give up'

Sussex Police confirmed White had not been returned to HMP Ford, a jail which accommodates up to 557 inmates with less than two years left to serve.

In November 2013, police found there were a number of absconders whose cases had not been regularly reviewed.

A dedicated team was set up to review each case and in September 2014 Sussex Police said there were 83 Ford prisoners on the run.

PC Lewis Dines, from the investigation team, said: "Spencer White has been a priority to locate from the moment he absconded but he evaded immediate capture and disappeared [from] our radar.

"Within the last year we received information about his possible location and were able to secure a European Arrest Warrant so he could be arrested if found outside the UK.

"His capture and additional sentence send a message that we will not give up seeking absconders and when we put them back in front of the court they can expect further punishment."

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