Escaped convict phones paper

Friday 01 March 1996 00:02 GMT
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

A convicted robber who went on the run after attempting to sue police who shot him during a post-office van raid said last night: "I just want to clear my name."

Steven Charalambous, 26, absconded from Hollesley Bay Colony open prison in Suffolk, when his plans to sue Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon caused a legal row. He is claiming pounds 250,000 damages for physical and emotional pain during his arrest in February 1993. He says police committed unlawful assault and "trespass to the person".

But in a statement on Wednesday the Legal Aid Board said it had suspended his legal aid and would not allow Charalambous to take his case to a court hearing.

In a two-minute phone call to the London Evening Standard newspaper, Charalambous claimed: "I am not on the run officially. I have taken three days away and am going to hand myself back." He left the jail - a large working farm for category C and D inmates - on Wednesday in order to put his side of the case. He said: "I was shocked and outraged at what they wrote in the newspapers."

Charalambous, of Finsbury Park, north London, was jailed for five years after admitting conspiracy to rob and firearms offences. He had been shot three times by police marksmen after he ignored calls to drop his gun, which was an imitation.

When recaptured, Charalambous will be returned to a closed prison. He could have extra time added to his sentence.

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