Manchester rapist escapes prison

30 August 2018, 05:51 | Updated: 30 August 2018, 05:53

stuart o'neill

Police are hunting two convicted rapists who have absconded from an open prison.

John-Paul Knowlson, 30, and Stuart O'Neill, 29, left HMP Leyhill in South Gloucestershire at about 2am on Wednesday after forcing a door.

Avon and Somerset Police said both prisoners are serving indeterminate sentences.

Knowlson, who is from Bristol, was transferred to HMP Leyhill in September last year. He was convicted of rape at Bristol Crown Court in 2011.

Police said he is white, 5ft 5in and of medium build, with brown eyes, and speaks with a West Country accent. He has a cross tattoo on his right arm. When last seen he was wearing a red tracksuit top.

O'Neill, who is from the Lancashire area, has strong links to Manchester.

He was convicted of rape, burglary and theft offencesat Manchester Crown Court in 2009 and was transferred to HMP Leyhill in October last year.

Police said he is white, 6ft 1in and of medium build, with blue eyes and has a beard. He speaks with a Mancunian accent and has a tattoo with the name O'Neill on the base of his neck.

A force spokesman said: "If anyone sees O'Neill or Knowlson or knows of their whereabouts, we'd ask you not to approach them but to call us immediately on 999."

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "We are working closely with Avon and Somerset Police to locate these prisoners.

"Absconds are extremely rare and we will investigate how this happened.

"Those who abscond from open prison face additional time behind bars in a closed prison when they are recaptured."