Wife jailed for daring death-row rescue bid

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The Independent US

A British woman who hijacked a helicopter to help her husband escape from death row in a maximum security prison in the United States has been jailed for 12 years.

A British woman who hijacked a helicopter to help her husband escape from death row in a maximum security prison in the United States has been jailed for 12 years.

Josie Clark ended up forcing the pilot of the helicopter she had chartered with an accomplice to turn back once they were in sight of the Union Correctional Institution outside Raiford, Florida.

Clark, 54, originally from Keighley, West Yorkshire, and Wendy Calderon, 30, were arrested later that day as they attempted to get away. They were trying to free Ronald Clark, who was sentenced to death in 1991 for murder, and Calderon's boyfriend. Both women pleaded guilty to hijacking an aircraft.

Judge Henry Lee Adams last month sentenced Calderon to 11 years and three months. Sentencing Clark yesterday in Jacksonville, Florida, Judge Adams said he did not give Clark the maximum 20-year sentence because she tried the break-out under threat from another death-row inmate - identified in court records only as Costa - and because she was reluctant to co-operate and had no prior criminal record.

Clark told the court she had met her American husband through a pen-pal magazine. They kept on corresponding and met for the first time in August 1997. The couple married in April 1998 at the prison and she visited him every Saturday.

In a letter to the Keighley News in May, she said: "My story is a strange one. I married my second husband in 1998 here in America. He is on death row. I just fell in love with the wrong guy."

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