Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Police hunt killer after escape

Paul Ceasar
Paul Caesar, who is aged 37, escaped at about 1100 GMT on Tuesday

Police are searching for a convicted killer who escaped from a secure mental hospital in south London.

Paul Caesar has been held at Springfield Hospital in Tooting for 11 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter in 1997.

Caesar, 37, is described as a light-skinned black man, 5ft 9in (1.75m) tall with cropped, receding hair.

Police said he was last seen wearing a grey cap, trainers, a black zip-up jacket and blue tracksuit bottoms.

Public warned

A spokesman for Springfield Hospital said Caesar failed to return after spending time unescorted in the hospital grounds on Tuesday morning.

He added the hospital was working with police in their inquiries.

The public have been warned not to approach Caesar and to dial 999 immediately if he is seen.

He killed a 44-year-old man in Battersea, south London, in 1996.

Caesar was charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the Inner London Crown court in October 1997, and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act for an indefinite period.

Previous escapes

There have been several instances of patients absconding from Springfield Hospital in recent years.

In 2004, a paranoid schizophrenic fled and stabbed a man to death in an unprovoked attack in Richmond Park, south-west London.

This led to an inquiry which found serious failings on the part of the hospital.

The same year, a patient convicted of attempted murder went on the run for a week, while two patients escaped in the space of a fortnight in 2005.

Another two patients absconded in 2006, travelling 400 miles by train before being arrested six hours later.

And last November a suspected burglar was missing for a week after fleeing Springfield Hospital with an alleged murderer, who was recaptured after three days.

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