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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
tech
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor