Court Hears How Serial Criminal Escaped Derbyshire Jail After Fooling Guards

26 November 2018, 17:52 | Updated: 26 November 2018, 18:07

HMP Sudbury Derbyshire

A serial criminal escaped an open prison in Derbyshire after fooling guards by putting a dummy made up of clothing and a protein powder container in his bed.

Ross Gallagher was spotted "hopping gardens" after absconding from HMP Sudbury in Derbyshire on October 19 before falling through a shed roof.

The 32-year-old was "finally flushed out" by police dogs after stingers were used to try to stop a stolen Peugeot 308 he was travelling in at Rothwell Services on the A14 in Northamptonshire.

He continued to drive for over a mile despite two tyres being deflated before making off on foot.

Leicester Crown Court heard how the dummy he used "suggested someone was still in the bed" when officers peered through his cell window.

The court was told Gallagher, who appeared via video link from HMP Peterborough, had 80 "substantive" previous convictions but was transferred to HMP Sudbury from a closed prison on April 25.

Gallagher, originally of Corby, Northamptonshire, pleaded guilty to escaping from prison, dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking, driving while disqualified and criminal damage.

He was jailed for 27 months to run consecutively with an eight-year sentence he is currently serving.

Judge Philip Head accepted Gallagher had intended to return the following morning and only escaped to visit his father.

On Monday, the judge told Gallagher: "The reason this is a real tragedy is because you became frustrated - you took matters into your own hands.

"You had clearly pre-planned this. You took steps to disguise your absence.

"You made a determined effort to evade arrest. It is a tribute to the determination you had trying to escape that you suffered injuries yourself - most notably to your legs."

He added: "I understand you were frustrated but what you then did was self-defeating - taking matters into your own hands."

Describing the facts of the case, Prosecutor Hal Ewing told the court: "On this occasion, what he had done was place a dummy in his bed of clothing and a protein powder container.

"It suggested someone was still in the bed when you looked through the window."

Mr Ewing said Gallagher then used a stolen car to make his escape, which he eventually crashed after driving down a steep verge.

He added: "He got out of the vehicle and ran off. Dogs and a helicopter were deployed.

"He was jumping over fences in back gardens. Police then heard a loud crack and then a yell of pain - he had fallen through the roof of a shed.

"Even at that point the defendant did not give up."

Amar Mehta, defending, said: "He was going to come back in the morning - he simply wanted to see his father."

Mr Mehta said Gallagher had also become frustrated after being refused a prison transfer.