JUSTICE chiefs have confirmed that a Wigan double killer has been returned to a top category jail after sparking a major security alert.
It looks increasingly likely that Darren Pilkington will be serving a longer sentence than he may recently have anticipated after vanishing from the cell at his open prison for a whole night.
The Hindley 31-year-old, serving an indeterminate sentence for the manslaughter of his 19-year-old girlfriend Carly Fairhurst in 2006, was at large for nine hours before the authorities located him within the precincts of his Buckinghamshire jail.
He had been moved to Spring Hill open prison several months ago as the first step towards his release. It was a security downgrading from the parole board which angered his victim’s parents, Trevor and Sheila Fairhurst, who fear that he is not rehabilitated and has not served long enough behind bars. This especially as he killed Carly after having already served a manslaughter prison sentence for his part in the violent death of Hindley man Paul Akister.
Another parole hearing was due later this year at which privile ges for Pilkington would have been discussed, such as day release. That session appears still to be going ahead - possibly in September - but the Faihursts think that after this “escape” incident, he may have unravelled all the progress he must have made to earn the prison downgrade.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed that as soon as Pilkington - who could have been back on the streets as soon as next spring - was recaptured, he was sent to a higher security institution.
And while he would not comment on the progress of an internal inquiry into Pilkington’s disappearance, he did issue the following statement.
He said: “Those located in open prisons have been rigorously risk-assessed and deemed suitable for open conditions.
“Anyone whose behaviour gives cause for concern can be returned to a closed prison and may face further criminal charges.”