A KILLER who walked out of Sudbury prison more than a decade ago to start a new life in Ireland, faces extradition back to the UK.
Anthony Craig, 66, was serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of an accountant when he was transferred to the open prison near Ashbourne.
His disappearance, and the subsequent refusal by Derbyshire police to name or release a photo of Craig, led to questions in the House of Commons and a change in policy by the force with regards to absconders.
Craig was sentenced to life in 1974. He had lured John Kirby to a park in Blackburn in 1973 after meeting him at a well-known gay pub in the city. He robbed him of just 2p before hitting him over the head with a brick three times.
Craig had served 28 years in prison when he walked out of Sudbury in 2002 and never returned.
It has now transpired that he fled to the Republic of Ireland before settling in County Leitrim and marrying a local woman in 2006.
Derbyshire police officers had information that he was in Ireland in 2011 but it was not until late 2012 that a European Arrest Warrant was obtained and Craig was eventually arrested in February 2013.
Extradition proceedings have been given the go-ahead by Irish authorities but Craig has been released on bail until September 8 for lawyers to consider an appeal.
In 2002, Derbyshire police did not make a public appeal after Craig’s disappearance and even refused to name or him or provide his photograph when quizzed by the Derby Telegraph.
Their policy over absconders was then raised in the House Of Commons by Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin and the force later change its policy – now naming and providing pictures of all runaways.
A spokesman for Derbyshire police said: “At the time Anthony Craig absconded, we circulated him as wanted on the Police National Computer and alerted Lancashire police specifically, as that is where the offence took place.
“We did not issue a public appeal at the time as it was not our policy in 2002. However, in 2005, we reviewed the process and we now have a very proactive stance on appeals when prisoners abscond from HMP Sudbury.
“Over the years since he absconded, we have conducted several inquiries to try and locate Anthony Craig.
“Those inquiries led us to the Republic of Ireland in 2011 and we have been working with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Irish authorities since then to secure his extradition.
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage as criminal proceedings are now active.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The Justice Secretary has been clear that keeping the public safe is our priority and has tightened the eligibility for open prisons following a comprehensive review.
“Absconds have reached record lows under this Government – down 80 per cent over the last 10 years.
“Open prisons and temporary licence are an important tool in rehabilitating long term offenders but not at the expense of public safety.”