Court security concerns as prisoner still on run

Concerns were raised today about security at a court from which a convicted killer absconded.

James Stevenson, 29, went on the run after making a dramatic escape in Swansea, South Wales, at Friday lunchtime.



Despite a major police manhunt, initially spearheaded by the South Wales Police helicopter, he remained at large today.



The National Offender Management Service is carrying out an investigation into the escape, which is believed to have happened from a basement custody suite at Swansea Crown Court's Guildhall building, which is used as an overspill court.



From there it is believed Stevenson gained access to the building's flat roof before shinning down a drainpipe and running off.



He had just been given a five-year prison sentence after being found with a single-barrelled shotgun in June of this year.



He was also in breach of a court order restricting him from owning a firearm.



Police have warned the public against approaching Stevenson, who as a prisoner would have had no money on him.



He was last seen heading towards Oystermouth Road and the nearby sea front dressed in jeans and a navy tracksuit top.



After his escape it emerged that he was jailed for five years in 2002 for choking his mother's boyfriend to death.



The South Wales Evening Post has also reported that Stevenson briefly escaped from a prison in Dorset in 2005 but was caught after just half an hour.



Rene Kinzett, leader of the Tory group on Swansea Council, said he wanted to see a report compiled into the incident.



"I'm concerned that whilst the Guildhall is a very grand building," said councillor Kinzett, "and judges and lawyers like to have their cases heard there, the facilities are inadequate to hold offenders, especially dangerous offenders such as a killer in this case, who has form for doing a runner.



"It sounds like he was being kept in a holding room with a window rather than a cell.



"It seems to be wholly inappropriate and inadequate that we have a dangerous offender held in a room unsupervised with an escape option."



He added: "All the agencies involved have something to answer for including the (Her Majesty's) Court Services, the Ministry of Justice and their contractors, Reliance.



"I hope there is going to be a report so we can find out what happened, what went wrong and how they can stop it happening again in the future but my main concern at the moment is to stop this man."



A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The National Offender Management Service is carrying out an investigation.



"All agencies concerned are co-operating fully with the police to bring this incident to a conclusion. This is a matter for South Wales Police."



Stevenson's distinguishing features include a tattoo of a Chinese dragon on the back of his neck and part of his right ear is missing.



Anyone with information is urged to call South Wales Police on 999 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee