Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Spectacular fall of royal helper

Jane Andrews
Andrews spent three months in open prison before absconding

The escape and recapture of ex-Royal aide Jane Andrews from an open prison is the latest in a catalogue of events that have marked the spectacular rise and fall of the Duchess of York's former assistant.

The Cleethorpes carpenter's daughter once moved in the highest social circles, but for the last eight years has shared her life with fellow murderers and other convicts.

Now it appears that the relative freedom she enjoyed after she was moved to an open prison will be curtailed.

Prison Service officials have confirmed that she is likely to be returned to a higher-security jail.

Stabbed and bludgeoned

The years since Andrews' conviction have been marked by overdoses and a failed appeal at the expense of the reputations of her victim and even her own brother.

For the family of the victim - wealthy businessman Tom Cressman who was stabbed and bludgeoned to death with a cricket bat in 2000 - Andrews' latest disappearance comes as no surprise.

Speaking shortly after the 42-year-old former Royal dresser made her escape, Tom Cressman's brother Rick said: "As a family we felt the sentence was far too lenient in the first place.

"We feel she is a devious and manipulative character and I don't think anything has changed."

He added: "Moving her to an open prison was wholly inappropriate and offensive to the memory of my brother.

"Lo and behold, look what's happened."

She had lived a high life in the Royal household. She looked upon Tom as someone who would bring her a little near to it again
Harry Cressman, father

In 2003 Andrews tried to overturn her murder conviction by claiming she had been sexually abused by her brother as a child - a charge he vehemently denied.

She said the trauma damaged her personality and meant that she was not guilty of murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

But the Court of Appeal rejected the case, along with claims that Mr Cressman had domestically abused and raped her.

A month after the appeal was denied, Andrews was taken to intensive care after a suspected drugs overdose.

In 2006, the High Court reduced her sentence from 15 years to 12 years, leaving her eligible for parole in 2012.

Judge Mr Justice McKinnon said in the ruling that Andrews' rejection by Mr Cressman - which preceded his murder - was an "unusually heavy burden to bear".

She was moved to East Sutton Park open prison in Kent in July 2009.

But she absconded on 23 November, days after another apparent suicide attempt using paracetamol.

At the time, police described her as "vulnerable".

They recaptured Andrews two days later in the Maidstone area in the early hours of the morning.

Tom Cressman
Tom Cressman was a wealthy businessman

Andrews' detachment from her humble Lincolnshire beginnings began when, aged 21, she answered an advert in society magazine The Lady for a personal dresser.

It was only during her interview she found out who her employer would be.

But in 1997 she was left heartbroken after being sacked after nine years' service with Sarah Ferguson, ostensibly as a cost-saving exercise.

"Losing her job would have been devastating," said another former aide Dominique Vulliamy.

"Most jobs become part of your identity but this one takes over your life. It would be hard to deal with it once it's gone."

Others say the sacking left her disturbed.

Businessman Tom Cressman, with his fast cars, vintage boats and high-society contacts, was her link to the world she had previously inhabited and she made him the focus of her life.

His father, Harry Cressman said: "She had obviously lived a high life for quite a number of years in the Royal household.

"I think she looked upon Tom as someone who couldn't replace that, but would do his damnedest to bring her a little near to it again."

Cricket bat

But Andrews was not able to snare her man.

Friends said he had come to realise she was "unstable", and when the expected marriage proposal failed to materialise, she snapped.

Her loss of control was in character. When a previous boyfriend had ended his relationship with Andrews, she had vandalised his flat.

But Tom Cressman would lose his life.

The night he died, Tom phoned the police and asked officers to come to the house, telling them he was "afraid we might hurt each other".

Within hours he was dead.

Enraged by rejection, Andrews hit her lover around the head with a cricket bat while he slept in their bed.

She then plunged an 19-centimetre kitchen knife into his chest and tried to rig the scene before she went on the run.

Her former employer Sarah Ferguson was among those who urged her to give herself up.

Four days after the murder, Andrews was found in her car in a lay-by in Cornwall.

Jane Andrews and Sarah Ferguson
Andrews took a job as dresser for the Duchess of York

She had taken an overdose of painkillers. She told police she panicked after killing her boyfriend by accident, in self-defence.

In court, she painted a picture of a violent man who had raped her and threatened to kill her.

But her story unravelled under cross-examination.

Prosecutors pointed out that she had never complained of his violence, that none of her friends believed he had ever hurt her, and that she lied to police during interviews.

Andrews admitted that at the time she murdered her lover, she still had not got over losing her job with the Duchess of York three years earlier.

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