Violent criminal from Wigan is back behind bars after escape

Damien Long is back in prison
Damien Long is back in prison

A Wigan man who absconded from jail whilst serving an “indefinite” sentence for public protection is back behind bars, his family have revealed.

Damien Long escaped from HMP Thorn Cross on October 26, where he was serving part of his sentence for a string of violent crimes committed in 2009.

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The 32-year-old, of Ascroft Avenue in Beech Hill, was initially sentenced to life nine years ago after pleading guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to six counts of robbery, one count of attempted robbery, one count of kidnap and two counts of aggravated burglary.

Between January 1 and January 17 2009, Long was involved in a string of crimes across Wigan, which included a carjacking, muggings and armed burglaries.

A year after this sentence was handed down, it was revoked by judges at London’s Court of Appeal, who ruled that Long would serve an “indefinite” term for public protection instead.

The amount of time to be served by Long before any chance of parole was also reduced from eight years to seven years and three months.

On Friday, October 26 this year, Long’s family received the unsettling news that he had escaped from the minimum security prison on the outskirts of Warrington where he was serving what is believed to be the final stretch of his sentence.

Images of Long taken while he was on the run were released and an appeal was published by Wigan Today.

Although it is unclear how he was apprehended, Long is now back in prison and awaiting a court date during which he will reportedly find out whether he will be paroled for release or re-sentenced.

His devastated family have said that the prison service had “let him down” and that he did not commit any criminal acts during the two-week period he was out in public.

Speaking at the time of his escape a prison service spokesperson said: “Public protection is our priority so when an abscond takes place police are immediately notified and become responsible for locating the offender.

“Those who abscond are returned to closed prisons where they may have to serve additional time behind bars. We investigate each incident thoroughly to see what lessons can be learned.”

They have declined to comment on his return to HMP Thorn Cross.

The extent of Long’s crimes was highlighted during his sentencing hearing in 2009.

A crown court judge heard how the repeat offender, along with his accomplice Daniel Morris, from Chorlton-cum-Hardy, used weapons during their crime spree, assaulted and tied up several victims and threw one man into the boot of a car.

According to prosecutors, Long sometimes acted alone or with an unidentified accomplice, and sometimes with Morris.

During the sentencing hearing a full list of the pair’s crimes was detailed to the judge, including one incident where they burst into a flat on Canberra Road in Marsh Green and held a screwdriver to a teen’s face before stealing a mobile phone and cigarettes.

Just two days later Long attacked a 61-year-old man who was walking home on Springfield Road.

As he approached his front door, he was hit across the back of his head and was attacked until he fell to the floor. Long then robbed the man as he lay on the ground.