Page last updated at 04:04 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Escape prompts mother's jail call

John Claydon and John Slavin
John Claydon and John Slavin, fled from the hospital on Tuesday evening

A man who escaped from a psychiatric hospital while awaiting trial for murder should have been in prison, his alleged victim's mother has said.

John Claydon, 28, fled from Springfield Hospital in Wandsworth, south London, with another prisoner on Tuesday.

He was awaiting trial for the murder of Ben Foster, 22, in Bath in April.

Mr Foster's mother, Clare Wallace, claimed he would not be on the run if he had been held in prison rather than at the mental health unit.

Mr Claydon, who was undergoing psychiatric assessment, escaped along with fellow detainee John Slavin, 44, who is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated burglary.

In a statement issued through Avon and Somerset Police, Mrs Wallace said: "I am concerned that given the severity of the charges (Mr Claydon) faces he was not detained securely.

I would hate for any other family to go through the pain that we are suffering
Clare Wallace

"In my view if he had remained on remand in prison he would not be at large now."

"This man has been charged with the murder of my son Ben. I would urge anyone who knows where he is to contact police immediately, so he can be brought to trial."

"I would hate for any other family to go through the pain that we are suffering."

Springfield Hospital has been at the centre of previous security breaches.

One of its patients, John Barrett, stabbed retired banker Denis Finnegan to death in September 2004 after walking out of the hospital's grounds.

An inquiry found carers did not properly assess the risk he posed.

In the same year, Broadmoor patient Mark Ricketts absconded during a day trip to Springfield.

He spent six days on the run and an inquiry found staff had forgotten about his visit.

In December 2006, two patients including a convicted rapist fled the secure Shaftesbury Clinic at the hospital and caught a train to Edinburgh.

A member of staff was subsequently suspended and the unit was closed to new admissions.

'Son of God'

Meanwhile in 2000, the South West London and St George's Mental Health Trust, which runs the hospital, was found to have serious failures after patient Anthony Joseph was set free and went on to kill his social worker, Jenny Morrison.

Ms Morrison was not told by hospital authorities that Joseph, who believed he was the son of God, was a danger.

Speaking about the latest escapes, police said they were using helicopters, dogs and ground search units in a bid to find Mr Claydon and Mr Slavin, who were reported missing just after 2200 GMT.

A hospital spokeswoman said it appeared the pair may have had outside help in escaping.

Mr Claydon is described as just under 6ft (1.82m) tall with cropped dark brown hair. He has several scars on his face and a gold tooth at the top left of his front teeth.

Mr Slavin is 6ft 3in (1.97m) of thin build with a goatee beard. He was wearing a black jumper, black coat, blue jeans and a black beanie hat when he escaped.

Mr Claydon is charged, along with another man, with the murder of 22-year-old Ben Foster who was found with serious stab wounds in a house in Ringswell Gardens in Bath.

He is scheduled to stand trial in March.



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