Officer gave an absconder a lift to train station

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An unsuspecting police officer inadvertently gave a lift to a violent prisoner who had absconded from prison.

Christopher Weston, who is serving life for attempted murder, hitched a lift from the officer, who has not been named, when he went on the run to visit his sister after fleeing HMP Kirkham.

He was picked up walking along the M6 motorway and taken to Preston Railway Station after he gave the policeman a false name.

Weston, 35, then borrowed the rail fare to Bradford, West Yorkshire, from ‘a kindly stranger’, returning the money promptly in the post with a thank you note.

Lancashire Police declined to comment today, but Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: “There has always been a small minority of prisoners who abscond from open prisons, but the number has fallen by 80 per cent in the past 10 years, and we have just introduced tough new restrictions for those in open prisons today. But they do play an important part in preparing prisoners for release in the last few months of their sentence. If we did not have them, all the expert advice is that reoffending would be higher.”

Weston went back to the area where he repeatedly stabbed his former partner Dawn McGarry almost nine years ago, and was captured the next day at his sister’s address.

His escape came almost a year after he fled Sudbury Prison, Derbyshire.

He is serving a sentence after admitting the attempted murder of his ex partner in 2005.

Prosecutor John Bull said he was discovered missing after a roll check on May 27.

Weston’s lawyer, Maria Temkow, said he was worried about his sister who was having problems and was very anxious to see her.

The court case, at Bradford Crown Court comes less than a month after former HMP Kirkham inmate Arnold Pickering, 44, was returned to custody after absconding from an open prison for the third time.

Pickering, who stabbed a man who wrongly believed to be a paedophile, was granted leave from the prison despite being known to abscond on at least three occasions.