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Murderer Wyndham Thomas absconds from Prescoed prison

Published

Police are hunting a convicted murderer who has absconded from Prescoed open prison near Usk, in Monmouthshire.

Wyndham Richard Thomas, 33, was convicted for aggravated burglary and the murder of Christopher Williams in 1998, and was serving a life sentence.

Mr Williams' father Alan, of Maesteg in the Llynfi Valley, said the family only found out on the news that Thomas was at large.

Gwent Police said it followed national policy on informing victims' families.

Thomas is described as white, five feet seven inches tall, medium build with a scar on the right side of his forehead.

It is believed he has contacts in the Caerphilly and Maesteg areas.

Members of the public are advised not to approach Thomas and to call Gwent Police on 01633 838111.

Confronted

Thomas, from Croeserw, was convicted along with two others, Alan Naylor and Christopher Chislett, who together had been breaking into a house at Nantyffyllon near Maesteg in July 1997.

image captionThomas was convicted of murder

Taxi driver Mr Williams was fatally stabbed in the heart after he confronted the trio when he returned to find them burgling his house.

His fiancée and their young daughter were both asleep in the house at the time.

Mr Williams, called a "decent and brave young man" by the trial judge, had chased the men down the road and was killed during a fight with Chislett and Naylor.

Christopher's father Alan Williams said the family was furious they learned of Thomas' escape via the media.

He told BBC 5 Live: "We weren't informed of the situation. We actually saw the picture of Wyndham Thomas on the BBC news this morning.

"It's the first we've known of the escape and the whole family is upset."

He criticised the police for not telephoning the family sooner to alert them to the situation.

"I'm just fuming that my family is in this position today and the two young girls and their mother are in this position that we haven't been informed prior to the broadcast to prepare us for it coming on," he told the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

"I haven't phoned any of the organisations because I wanted them to find out the way we found out."

image captionPolice at the scene of the murder near Maesteg in 1997, where Mr Williams suffered a single, fatal stab wound

Mr Williams said that since Christopher's death, the family had "tried to put the hurtful things" behind them, but the escape had opened up old wounds.

Gwent Police said: "Following a comprehensive risk assessment of the absconder, agencies including prison, probation and Gwent Police took immediate steps to locate the individual.

"Gwent Police adhere to the Victim Liaison Policy and Victims' Charter, which are national policies, which sets out guidelines on processes to be followed in informing victims and this policy was followed on this occasion.

"In line with this policy, considering the relevant risk the individual posed, the victims' family were contacted, by the probation service, within 24 hours of the incident."

The Ministry of Justice has been asked to comment.

The judge in the original trial concluded that Chislett had inflicted the fatal wound but Naylor had also been armed with a knife.

Thomas knew both men were armed with knives and might use them in the event of a confrontation, the judge at Swansea Crown said at the end of the trial in 1998.