March 7 2014 Latest news:
Catherine Hardy and Lizzie Dearden, Senior reporter
Monday, February 24, 2014
More than 200 patients have escaped from the same mental health unit which saw Ilford murderer Lerone Boye abscond last October, shock figures reveal.
Data obtained through a freedom of information request show 211 individuals under supervision at the John Howard Centre, in Homerton, have gone absent without leave since 2001.
They include murderers, sex offenders and kidnappers.
Boye, who was convicted in 2012 for the murder of 17-year-old Kelvin Chibueze in Ilford, absconded in October and was on the run for 98 days.
He disappeared on what would have been his victim’s birthday.
Kelvin’s mum, Tina Chibueze, discovered the terrible news when she saw a police appeal on the television.
“It’s a slap in the face,” she said. “They should have taken him to a maximum security hospital.”
Four men, including Boye, were sentenced for a combined 93 years for the vicious attack in 2011 near the former Artifex club, High Road.
The prisoner had been transferred to the medium secure unit from HMP Whitemoor a few weeks before his escape.
Staff member Dean Ablakwa, 29, denies charges of assisting Boye and is awaiting trial.
Others who have fled the unit include sex offender James Manley in 2003, child-kidnapper Shane Hart in 2009 and Shane Smith, convicted of beating and raping a schoolgirl, in 2012.
Manley, who is considered a major threat to women, was only found after he turned himself in.
Meanwhile Smith and Hart were returned to custody after six weeks, and a day, respectively.
However, other absentees have never been found – these include James Lisbon, who went missing after he failed to return from unescorted leave in August last year.
The centre, which specialises in prisoners with personality disorders, has been the subject of multiple investigations due to the number of escapes.
Broken down, the figures show 95 patients have absconded since 2009, 68 between 2004 and 2009, and 48 between 2001 and 2004.
A spokesman from the John Howard Centre said: “Patients may be allowed periods of time outside the unit, as part of an individual’s rehabilitation and planned treatment programme.
“This only happens after a comprehensive risk assessment. This is reviewed prior to each episode of leave.
“If a patient who has been granted leave does not return at the agreed time, we have clear processes for our staff to follow to ensure their safe return to the unit.”
The centre has carried out a “thorough review” of security measures since Boye’s escape.
According to the Ministry of Justice, compulsory treatment of mental health conditions cannot be provided in prisons and inmates are transferred to secure psychiatric hospitals.