Search for former royal aide after she absconds from jail

Murderess goes missing from open prison where she is serving a life sentence

Jane Andrews, a former aide to the Duchess of York, was on the run last night after absconding from jail while serving a life sentence for murder.

Andrews killed her boyfriend, Tom Cressman, in 2000 by bludgeoning his head with a cricket bat before plunging a kitchen knife into his chest as he lay asleep in his bed.

She was moved to an open prison earlier this year but was found to be missing from East Sutton Park in Kent when a roll call was carried out on Sunday night.

A prison service spokesman said: "Jane Andrews is believed to have absconded from HMP East Sutton Park on 22 November after being found missing at the 8pm roll-check. Police have been informed and are assisting with the search."

A few days earlier Andrews had been taken to hospital after taking an overdose of pills but had been returned to prison after treatment.

Police hunting for Andrews described her as slim, with a fair complexion and long, straight brown hair. When she was last seen she was wearing a long-sleeved black and white striped top, black jeans, a black bodywarmer and black trainers.

She was convicted of murder in 2001 having been caught after going on the run from the home she shared with Mr Cressman in Fulham, west London.

Three days after the murder on 17 September 2000 she was found in her car by police after apparently taking an overdose of painkillers. During the hunt several friends, including the Duchess of York, left messages on her mobile imploring her to give herself up.

At her trial and subsequent appeals she tried to present herself as a victim but her claims of being abused by both her boyfriend and her brother were dismissed.

Far from being a victim, she was shown to be a manipulative and vindictive woman. She had claimed at her trial that Mr Cressman, 39, a wealthy businessman, had raped and beaten her but the jury accepted the prosecution case that she killed him in revenge for refusing to marry her. She also claimed she acted in self defence to stop him attacking her but evidence from several friends, including ex-girlfriends, showed Mr Cressman to have a kind and gentle demeanour.

At the Court of Appeal she maintained she had killed Mr Cressman as a result of damage to her personality caused by her brother, Mark, sexually abusing her as a child, an allegation he strongly denied. Her evidence was described as "totally unreliable".

Mr Cressman's brother, Rick, described Andrews as "devious and manipulative" and said the move to an open prison was "wholly inappropriate and pretty offensive to the family".

The family had voiced its opposition to the move to an open prison but he said: "Unfortunately, the authorities think you are doing it – trying to keep the person in prison – for vengeful reasons but lo and behold, look what's happened."

Andrews, who worked for the Duchess of York as a dresser and assistant for nine years until being made redundant in 1997, was expected to have her first chance of being freed by a parole board in 2012 but Mr Cressman's mother, Barbara, 81, recently spoke out vehemently against her possible release.

"For us, there is no parole", she said in an interview. "Life should mean life and yet Jane will only have served 11 years if she is released in 2012.

"I'm not in favour of the death penalty because that would be too easy. She is a wicked woman, an evil woman. We've not had one word from her that she repents what she did. Not once has she said she's sorry."

The Recorder of London, Judge Michael Hyam, said while sentencing her at the original trial: "In killing the man you loved, you ended his life and ruined your own.

"It is evident that you made your attack on him when you were consumed with anger and bitterness. Nothing could justify what you did.

"It was a brutal attack and even if you felt yourself wronged and you were, as your counsel has said, emotionally vulnerable, you were attacking an unarmed man who had possibly been asleep only a few minutes before you attacked him."