Wiltshire tractor prison break man arrested

A prisoner who escaped from a Wiltshire jail on a tractor has been caught just 20 minutes after making his getaway.

The inmate had fled HMP Erlestoke near Devizes on the prison's own tractor but was spotted by a former staff member on the A361.

The inmate stopped briefly to change clothes but then began driving again as police gave chase across a golf course and finally cornered the vehicle.

The man was taken to Melksham police station.

'Pure luck'

He was spotted by Nigel Stokes who used to work at the prison and recognised the tractor.

"We automatically spotted that it wasn't a generic tractor from a farm and the gentleman's dress code stood out like a sore thumb," he said.

"[He was wearing] standard prison stuff. His rough beard and prison hat made him stand out even more."

The tractor is used by inmates, on temporary licence, doing gardening work in the prison grounds.

Mr Stokes said he called the police and tailed the tractor at about 20mph until officers arrived.

"There's a lot of humour involved in this, but the reality is it could have been a lot worse. It was a case of pure luck," he said.

HMP Erlestoke is a category C prison with an operational capacity of 470 prisoners.

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