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Prisoner went on the run after being caught smuggling at Standford Hill, Sheppey

A jailbird went on the run after trying to smuggle booze and tobacco into prison.

Trusted inmate Syd Whitelock stuffed pillows inside his bed to give the impression he was asleep at HMP Standford Hill, an open prison in Eastchurch.

Syd Whitelock (18758843)
Syd Whitelock (18758843)

When a prison guard became suspicious near washrooms, he discovered Whitelock climbing out of an open window.

The 31-year-old dad then threatened him with a piece of broken glass before fleeing in May and staying ahead of the law until August 20 this year.

Maidstone Crown Court heard his bid for freedom came to an end when an off-duty police officer recognised him in London.

After admitting escaping lawful custody and threatening an emergency worker, he will have to serve another 21 months on top of the present sentence of eight years and eight months for conspiracy to burgle.

Prosecutor Amy Nicholson said officer Owen Kerridge became suspicious and went to look inside the washrooms and saw two men near an open window.

Whitelock escaped Standford Hill Prison .Picture: Andy Jones.
Whitelock escaped Standford Hill Prison .Picture: Andy Jones.

Whitelock grabbed a piece of broken window and told the officer: "Come any closer and I will smash you."

The prison officer backed off and Whitelock continued to climb out and run away.

Denise Amaning, defending, said that during his jail sentence he became lonely after the breakdown of his relationship.

She said he was a trusted prisoner with the job of welcoming visitors into prison and had applied to be transferred to a prison closer to his family and friends.

Ms Amaning said that Whitelock spent the time on the run seeing his son.

Standford Hill Prison. Picture: Andy Jones.
Standford Hill Prison. Picture: Andy Jones.

"At the time of his escape he had spent three and a half years in custody and had another 12 months to serve before he could be considered for early release.

"He realises now he has let down himself and let down his son and the irony is that in wanting to spend more time with son he is, by his own actions, now going to be away from his son for longer."

Judge Stephen Thomas said the circumstances of the escape "was unusual" as he was regarded a trusted prison while illegally smuggling alcohol and tobacco inside the prison.

It was accepted by the prosecution he had simply fled the prison on the spur of the moment and in panic.

Prosecutor Amy Nicholson said: "He said it had not been his original intention to escape but had gone into the bathroom to climb out the window and collect a package that had been delivered outside.

He threatened a prison guard with a piece of broken glass
He threatened a prison guard with a piece of broken glass

"He said this was a common occurrence and the packages contained vodka and other items not allowed in prison.

"Bodyworn camera footage from the prison shows that when another cell was searched after the defendant had escaped, a number of bottles of vodka, McDonald's wrappers and cans of tuna were found.

"It is accepted by the prosecution this was not a long-hatched plan to escape but he panicked when he was found in the toilets helping to bring in the contraband items.

"The pillows fashioned in his bed to make it look like someone was sleeping in it were put there in case anyone was to look in his room while he was bringing the vodka into prison.

"It seems that on the spur of the moment he panicked and, rather than be dealt with for bringing items into prison, he preferred to take his chances and escape."

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