Killer at large after eight years on the run

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The Home Office came under further attack last night when it was revealed a convicted murderer who walked out of Leyhill prison in south Gloucestershire eight years ago is yet to be caught.

Two other murderers and a man convicted of manslaughter are among 25 inmates still at large after absconding years ago.

The open prison has been described as Britain's "softest prison" with 393 inmates absconding since 1999, an average of one every week.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said the figures illustrate the "serial incompetence" of the Government. "This represents yet another appalling blunder by the Home Office," he said. "It absolutely beggars belief that dangerous criminals who could pose a serious risk to the public are still at large."

Junior Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe confirmed 25 inmates were still on the loose.A Home Office spokeswoman said the men who absconded were criminals coming towards the end of their sentence who had been "risk assessed" as suitable to be held in an open prison. She said: "There is an element of trust (in the system) and some abuse that trust.