Burglar sick of paedophiles and drug dealers walked out of prison (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Rudloe man made a point then handed himself in to police
10:09am Wednesday 30th May 2012 in Chippenham
A burglar was so sick and tired of living with paedophiles and drug dealers that he "broke out" of an open prison to make a point, a court has heard.
Lee Marc Fitchett, 29, of Longclose Avenue, Rudloe, near Chippenham, walked out of HMP Leyhill because he felt "oppressed by the conversation of paedophiles and the prevalence of drugs".
After dropping in on his girlfriend, he handed himself in to Swindon police station 48 hours later, so he could see out his sentence in a more secure jail.
Top judges have now accepted he only absconded to "make a point", and cut the eight-month consecutive sentence he was handed for the break-out to a "nominal" 28 days.
Describing the case as "unusual, if not unique", Mr Justice Headley said Fitchett had been serving a three-and-a-half sentence for burglary at Dartmoor prison, but was transfered to Leyhill ahead of his expected release.
But he was so shocked at the sick chatter of sex offenders - and the ubiquity of illegal drugs - that he applied to be moved back to the higher category jail, the court heard.
In what the judge said was probably a light-hearted remark, Fitchett was told his only chance of returning to Dartmoor was to escape, but he was asked to "leave his keys, to spare them the expense of changing the locks".
Unbending Fitchett did just that, leaving his keys in the cell door and getting a taxi to Swindon, where he handed himself in to police, the court heard.
Sentencing him to serve an extra eight-month jail term on top of his original prison stretch, a judge at Swindon Crown Court branded his actions "foolish in the extreme" in February.
But lawyers for Fitchett appealed that sentence, claiming his escape was not a real prison break, as he never intended to swerve justice.
Mr Justice Headley, sitting with Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Judge Anthony Russell, cut the sentence to 28 days, which could see Fitchett released immediately unless prison authorities order him to serve the full length of his orginal three-and-a-half-year term.
He ruled: "The learned judge was clearly right to take the view that a sentence of imprisonment was required and was also right to take the view that such a sentence should be consecutive.
"The question that this court is exercised with is how long that sentence should be.
"We are satisfied that, in the unusual, if not unique, circumstances of this case, little more than a nominal sentence was called for."