Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Fugitive killer arrested over fraud

Simon Hennessey, who has been captured in Australia, walked out of Leyhill open prison in December 1998
Simon Hennessey, who has been captured in Australia, walked out of Leyhill open prison in December 1998

A violent British killer who escaped prison after being jailed for a frenzied knife attack on his aunt has been recaptured in Australia.

Simon Hennessey, 49, has been on the run since he walked out of Leyhill open prison, in Gloucestershire, in December 1998.

In 1978, when he was aged just 14, Hennessey mutilated his aunt Mary Webber, 72, in a brutal knife attack at her home in Plymouth, stabbing her 70 times. He admitted killing his aunt but pleaded mental illness and was jailed for life in the same year.

He served 20 years of that sentence before disappearing 15 years ago, but had escaped from a number of prisons before that.

Police in Australia on Saturday confirmed that a man they have charged with a series of fraud offences is British fugitive Simon Hennessey. A spokeswoman for Queensland Police said he had been arrested earlier this month in the Sunshine Coast town of Maroochydore. He appeared before Maroochydore Magistrates' Court on June 17 and is currently in custody pending his next hearing in July.

"There is not much more we can say because of the court situation but we are aware that he is a wanted criminal in the UK," she said.

Hennessey's arrest is understood to be related to a sophisticated credit card scam running to tens of thousands of Australian dollars. He could face a lengthy prison sentence if convicted in an Australian court, but Avon and Somerset police have already contacted the authorities in Australia to discuss his extradition .

"The Avon and Somerset Constabulary are aware of the situation and have been in contact with Queensland Police in Australia with a view to discussing an extradition," said a police spokesman.

In Plymouth, where Hennessey is originally from, the Plymouth Herald reported comments about Hennessey made by Daren Edwards, Sunshine Coast prosecuting chief, to the Courier-Mail in Queensland.

"He spent 20 years in jail and escaped in 1998. He had not been seen or heard of until he was picked up at Tewantin," he is reported as saying. "We knew there was more to him and it appears he has used several identities. We believe he has moved between Thailand, New Zealand and Australia."

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