Victims of on-the-run violent prisoner ask 'how was he allowed to escape?'

HUNTED: Escaped prisoner Ian Stirzaker

FEAR: David and Janice Hanley

VICTIM: Darren Swan

First published in News
Last updated
Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Crime Reporter

THE frightened family of the victim of violent fugitive Ian Stirzaker - on the run after fleeing an open prison during day release - are demanding answers after learning of his escape through the Telegraph & Argus.

David and Janice Hanley had not been told Stirzaker had been allowed out on day release since last October, or informed of his escape.

Now they fear they could be targeted by him while he is at large.

Stirzaker, 35, failed to return to Hatfield open prison, near Doncaster, on Sunday, after being allowed out on day release.

He had been sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment in July 2011 after being convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. His co-accused, Lee Lock, was jailed for 12 years.

Their drug addict victim, Darren Swan, 35, was beaten senseless in the kitchen after being lured to the house the defendants shared in Spinkwell Close, Undercliffe.

Mr Swan suffered multiple injuries and needed lifesaving surgery to remove his shattered spleen.

He died eight months after the case but a link to the attack could not be proved.

South Yorkshire Police today said Stirzaker had not been caught.

David Hanley, Mr Swan's stepfather, said he and Darren's mother, Janice, had been told after the court case that they would be kept informed about where the defendants were and any release dates, after they received threats from them .

But they only learned about Stirzaker's escape when a neighbour told them it had been reported in the T&A.

Mr Hanley, of Tyersal, Bradford, said: "That was the first we knew that he had been released. Nobody had informed us.

"I contacted West Yorkshire Police and they told us Stirzaker had been allowed out on day release in Leeds, on seven or eight occasions, since October 2013, which was only two and a half years into his sentence.

"I spoke to Stirzaker's probation officer, but he could give me no answers.

"I have no complaints about the police whatsoever. But somebody should have informed us that someone as violent as this was out on release near us. It is not right. I work in Leeds, we shop in Leeds, we could have run into him at any time.

"We want answers. The system is inadequate. We can't understand why nobody thinks it is necessary for us to be informed.

"Now we are looking over our shoulders again. I know my wife is scared. We are worried about walking outside when it's dark, or people knocking on the door.

"This guy is too dangerous to be out on the streets, he shouldn't even be in an open prison."

The family's case is being taken up by their MP David Ward, and Shipley MP Philip Davies, who has already urged the Government to act to prevent dangerous criminals being placed in open prisons.

Bradford East MP Mr Ward said last night: "It looks as if the system has failed this family. It needs to be investigated, which I commit myself to do.

"It seems to me that a promise and a commitment was made which has not been kept, which is disappointing and must clearly be a concern to them. I will follow this up."

Mr Davies said he would support Mr Ward and would consider raising the matter with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

He said: "This is completely unacceptable. The criminal justice system has got to look after victims and witnesses much better."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said last night: "Victims of crime need and deserve the best possible support.

“Those who sign up to the victim contact scheme have the right to be notified of key information about the offender’s sentence and can make representations about licence conditions on release.

“We are sorry for the distress caused to Mr Swan's family and will investigate what has happened in this case.”

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