Convicted murderer goes on the run from prison for the third time

A convicted murderer has gone on the run from prison for the third time.

Arnold Pickering, 44, from Chadderton, Greater Manchester, failed to return to HMP Kennet in Maghull, Merseyside, after leaving the Category C jail on day release at about 9.30am on Sunday.

Another inmate, Thomas Moffett, 51, from Blackburn, Lancashire, who is serving an indeterminate sentence for a number of robberies carried out in his home town in 2006, also failed to return from day release.

Pickering last absconded in December 2009 when he was let out on day release from HMP Kirkham to work on the bins in Manchester city centre.

He handed himself in four days later in Motherwell, Scotland.

Pickering, who stabbed a man to death in Oldham in 1990, had also escaped from Strangeways in Manchester on a previous occasion.

He was jailed in 1991 for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years after reportedly targeting his 55-year-old victim, who was partially blind and deaf because of unfounded rumours he was a paedophile..

Pickering had been risk assessed as suitable for temporary release on licence by the Ministry of Justice, said Merseyside Police.

A spokesman added: "Both prisoners were due back at around 4.30pm yesterday but failed to return and this was reported to Merseyside Police at around 7pm. Since then, officers have been carrying out extensive inquiries and working with partner agencies and other forces to locate them and return them to prison.

"It's believed both men may be in the Southport area.

"The prisoners have both been risk assessed as suitable for temporary release on licence by the Ministry of Justice, although any member of the public who sees them is advised not to approach them but to call the police."

The disappearance of the two men is highly embarrassing for the Government coming just two weeks after notorious armed robber Michael Wheatley - known as Skullcracker - absconded from Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, while on temporary release.

Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said there would now be "major changes" brought in as a "matter of urgency".

The system for allowing prisoners out on temporary licence has been too lax up till now and we are making major changes to address this," he said in a statement.

"In light of recent incidents I have tasked officials with implementing these changes as a matter of urgency.”

Pickering is described as about 5ft 11in, of medium build and with blue eyes. He has tattoos on his arms and chest. Moffett is about 5ft 10in, also of a medium build and with brown eyes. He has a scar on his right knee and tattoos of swastikas on his arms.

Police are appealing to anyone with any information on either of the prisoners' whereabouts to call Merseyside Police on either 0151 777 3803 or 0151 777 3891, or via 101.

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