Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Friday, 26 June 2009 13:36 UK

Escaped prisoner guilty of murder

CCTV footage shows Terrence O'Keefe calmly evading police during a hospital visit

An escaped prisoner who strangled a 73-year-old man while on the run has been convicted of murder.

Terrence O'Keefe, 39, had denied strangling David Kemp with a belt at his home in Malakoff Close, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in March 2008.

O'Keefe, who was being held at a secure unit, escaped from a London hospital in February 2008 by slipping his guard after undergoing treatment.

The jury at Norwich Crown Court returned a 10-2 majority verdict.

Sentencing has been adjourned until later this year.

The jury had been told that O'Keefe stole Mr Kemp's television to raise money for drugs before killing him to prevent him speaking to police.

Pornographic video

While on the run O'Keefe, thought to be from Liverpool, travelled to the Republic of Ireland and back to Great Yarmouth, jurors had heard.

Police initially suspected Mr Kemp had killed himself in "some kind of auto-erotic scenario" as the cover of a pornographic video was found near the body, although his television and video tape were missing.

The court heard that about a month after the killing an associate of O'Keefe's contacted police and told them that O'Keefe had confessed to the crime.

O'Keefe was serving a sentence for several offences including robbery at the time of his escape, the court heard.

He was being held at a secure unit at Lambeth Hospital and escaped while being treated at King's College Hospital, both in London.

Unreserved apology

In a statement, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), responsible for Lambeth Hospital, said after the verdict: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to all those affected by Mr David Kemp's death.

"Terrence O'Keefe absconded from an acute hospital, where he had been taken for medical treatment, while under escort by our staff. It should not have happened - and we apologise for that unreservedly.

"Immediately after the incident and since, we initiated major improvements and have strengthened the arrangements for transferring medium secure unit patients to acute hospital for treatment.

"Changes we have made include increasing the escort to as many as four staff per patient.

"We are also piloting the use of an electronic tracking system for the first time within the UK mental health system."

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Fiona Chance saw O'Keefe being arrested after he hid in a wheelie bin

DCI Steve Strong of Norfolk police said: "I am really pleased with today's guilty verdict. I considered this man to be a dangerous, manipulative individual, both mentally and physically."



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