Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 16:35 UK

Robber may be jailed indefinitely

John Claydon and John Slavin
John Slavin (right) allegedly escaped with fellow inmate John Claydon

A convicted robber who carried out an armed robbery after escaping from a psychiatric hospital in London could be locked away indefinitely, a judge said.

John Slavin, 44, was serving a sentence at Springfield Hospital in Wandsworth when he escaped in March last year.

Judge Stephen Robbins at Southwark Crown Court said Slavin could be sent to Broadmoor maximum security hospital.

Because his mental illness meant he was not fit to plead or stand trial, jurors simply found he "did the acts".

Slavin was eight months into a sentence for robbing a Gloucester Road bookshop when he escaped through a fence - and raided the bookshop a second time.

Slavin, of no fixed address, was originally convicted of a knife-point robbery at a hotel in Victoria, central London, and stealing £170 from the bookshop while terrifying the female shop worker with a blade.

The jury found Slavin had committed four counts of robbery, possessing an offensive weapon and escaping from lawful custody.

'Mentally ill'

Judge Robbins said Slavin had twice been jailed for life for armed robbery. He was transferred to Sudbury Open Prison, Derbyshire, at his last court appearance.

But he went on the run just before he was granted day release to attend university.

The judge said Slavin has been diagnosed with "psychotic mental illness" and is being held at Wandsworth Prison's hospital.

Judge Robbins said he was waiting for further psychiatric evidence before sentencing Slavin to serve an indefinite prison term at Broadmoor.

Slavin allegedly escaped with another prisoner when he and 11 other convicts had a cigarette break in an enclosed yard, the court heard.

Minutes later during a roll call staff noticed he was missing and one member of staff saw him breaking out through a hole in the fence, the court heard.

Within 24 hours of escaping Slavin had armed himself with a knife and revisited the Gloucester Road bookshop and ordered another female shop worker to empty the till.

He also stole a laptop from a clothes shop in Notting Hill, west London, where he warned he would stab anyone who raised the alarm, the court heard.

There have been four other high profile escapes from the hospital in the past five years.

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