Thursday, September 18, 2008

Crazy British laws again

A convicted rapist was allowed to walk out of a secure hospital unit because his carers were not authorised to stop him physically, a court was told yesterday. After escaping from King’s College Hospital, London, in February, Terrence O’Keefe, 39, went missing for almost nine weeks, during which time he is feared to have murdered a pensioner.

O’Keefe, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for rape and robbery, appeared yesterday before Inner London Crown Court to plead guilty to one count of escaping custody. Jailing him for 18 months, Judge Simon Davies said: “Escaping from prison or escaping in the circumstances you found yourself in is a very serious offence and it must attract a substantial sentence of imprisonment. “On this occasion you were being treated in a hospital for chest pains. I accept . . . this was a legitimate complaint. “Nevertheless, you decided to walk out of the hospital and not return. You were not able to be physically detained by your carers and so you were at large for about two months.”

During the time that he was missing, O’Keefe became a suspect in the murder of David Kemp, 73, in his flat in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on March 12. He was subsequently interviewed twice by police after evidence was found linking him to the scene. Detectives in Norfolk are still waiting for prosecutors to decide if there is enough evidence to charge O’Keefe, and Mr Kemp’s death was not mentioned in court yesterday. But Judge Davies said that O’Keefe was a dangerous man and a risk to the public.

The court was told that O’Keefe had been jailed originally for raping and robbing his girlfriend and then tying her to a radiator with electric wire. He had a personality disorder diagnosed and was held in a secure unit in Lambeth Hospital, South London. In February he complained of chest pains and was taken to King’s College Hospital.

This was the second time O’Keefe had escaped from the hospital. In October 2005, he slipped out of the same unit and managed to travel to his home town of Liverpool, but was taken back into custody later the same day. Robert Brown, prosecuting, said that on the day of his most recent escape, O’Keefe went outside with his nurses to have a cigarette. Mr Brown said: “After they returned to the ward he walked out again. They asked him to stay but he ignored them. Apparently nurses are not allowed to use force to detain patients so he walked out without them being able to do more to stop him. “Police were called about half an hour later but could not find any trace of him.”

Mr Brown added that the defendant later told police that it had been a “spur of the moment decision”, but that he would not say where he had been or what he had been doing while at large. O’Keefe was recaptured by armed police less than a mile from Mr Kemp’s home on April 17.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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