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Police arrest absconded prisoner

A convicted paedophile and rapist, described by police as "exceptionally dangerous", who went on the run after absconding from an open prison for a second time has been found.

Adam Mark, 37, who is serving a life sentence after being convicted in 1996 of three rapes and one attempted rape involving strangers, has been arrested after he was spotted by a member of the public in the Hambrook area of Gloucestershire.

Police have been searching for Mark since Tuesday when he was last seen outside the reception area at HMP Leyhill in south Gloucestershire at 7.30pm and is thought to have left some time between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Avon and Somerset Police said he will be handed over to the prison authorities.

As the hunt for Mark continued earlier, Detective Inspector Jill Kells, co-ordinating the search, said: "Adam Mark is a very dangerous man. He is serving a life sentence for a series of stranger sex attacks against women and children as young as 12. He has also carried out robberies to fund his drug habit. We know he had started using drugs again before he absconded from prison."

Mark first went on the run in 2008 from North Sea Camp prison in Boston, Lincolnshire, and was arrested later in nearby Skegness. Despite this incident, he was able to abscond again on Tuesday evening.

Local MP Steve Webb said: "I think this is the first occasion that I am aware of where someone has absconded once from an open prison, been given another opportunity and absconded again."

The Liberal Democrat MP for Thornbury and Yate added: "You will never have 100% certainty, clearly there is a risk assessment done, but if someone has proved once they can't be trusted in open conditions, there ought to be an incredibly high bar for them to be given another opportunity. In this case, clearly the wrong judgment was made. The long-term trend in absconding at Leyhill is down, but you can't just ignore a case like this, and I want a full investigation."

A police spokesman said of Mark, who is originally from West Yorkshire: "He is considered to be a danger to the public and particularly children. On a number of occasions he has targeted women and girls alighting from buses or who were at bus stops as well as a woman walking her dog alone."

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "The level of absconding from open prisons in 2012/13 was the second lowest since records began. Absconds are still 13% lower than when this Government came to power. We are not complacent about this issue and are looking at ways in which the risk of absconding can be reduced further.

"We are committed to ensuring that risk to the public is minimised. All those located in open conditions have been rigorously risk-assessed and categorised as being of low risk to the public."

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