Second prisoner is released by mistake

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The Independent Online

Scottish prisoner chiefs faced further embarrassment yesterday after a second prisoner was released from jail by mistake.

Scottish prisoner chiefs faced further embarrassment yesterday after a second prisoner was released from jail by mistake.

Colin Watson, 32, who was nearing the end of a two-year term for housebreaking, said he was "stunned" to be set free yesterday at Glasgow Sheriff Court. A Scottish Prison Service spokesman confirmed that Watson has since returned to Low Moss Prison near Glasgow.

Watson's return came as a police hunt intensified for a killer, James McCormick, 17, from Glasgow, who was allowed to walk free on Thursday from Hamilton Sheriff Court in Lanarkshire. McCormick has been described as potentially dangerous and the public have been warned not to approach him.

Reliance Custodial Services, which began escorting prisoners to and from some Scottish courts on Monday under an £11m contract, has been ordered to review its procedures for identifying prisoners. But the Scottish National Party demanded that the company's contract should be suspended, and said the Justice Minister, Cathy Jamieson, should apologise to the family of the man murdered by McCormick.

Watson was serving two years at Low Moss Prison, and went to Glasgow Sheriff Court on "another matter" for which he was given two years' probation.

"I was expecting to go back up to Low Moss but when I went through to the desk to ask what happened to me, they said, '12 months' probation, you're free to go'," he told a Scottish television station. He said that those in charge "basically haven't got a clue what they're doing".

The parents of the man killed by McCormick said they were "sick and scared" by his escape.

*A convicted killer escaped from prison custody yesterday while being treated in hospital. Police have warned the public not to approach Gordon Topen, 33, who was 10 years into a murder sentence when he fled from the hospital in Coventry.