Arguing goes on over man who walked from jail

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The Independent Online
The self-styled "King of Sting" will appreciate the chaos he has left in his wake.

The day after the Prison Service announced an inquiry into how Barry Gray, alias Joe Flynn, an infamous confidence trickster, walked free after receiving a two year jail sentence, there was new confusion over whether he was fugitive on the run or just a very lucky man.

Gray, 61, whose victims include the Sunday Times and the KGB, was "released in error" after his conviction at Southwark Crown Court on Monday last week.

The problem stems from confusion over remarks by the trial judge, which appears to have be mis-interpreted by Securicor, who were guarding him; by Brixton jail, where he was supposed to be incarcerated; and by officials at the court where he was tried.

Yesterday the mayhem continued, with the Metropolitan Police saying he was not on their wanted list. "It's up to the court to issue a warrant for his arrest," said a spokesman.

But the Prison Service insisted Gray was "unlawfully at large". A spokeswoman there said:"The police have been informed. It's up to them - we are not in the business of getting people back". The listings officer at Southwark Crown Court said the issue of his recapture was "entirely a matter for the Home Secretary".

And a spokeswoman at the Home Office said it was a Prison Service matter.

At his trial, in which Gray pleaded guilty to nine offences of deception, the court heard that the master conman had spun tales of industrial espionage, telephone bugging, and blackmail for 40 years

The confusion about his jail term came after the judge said he would give Gray an18 month reduction in his sentence because of the time he spent in custody in France fighting extradition. However Judge Geoffrey Rivlin, QC, did not appear to make it clear whether this was to be taken from the two year sentence he actually handed out. However, as Gray had already spent almost six months on remand his jailers allowed him to go.

Yesterday Gray was untraceable. Contacts believe he is in Paris.

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