The inside story on how police collared two fugitives on the run

Darren Douglas, and below, Ricardo Dunn
Darren Douglas, and below, Ricardo Dunn

A police chief has spoken of the inside operation that snared a wanted murderer and saw Aylesbury put on red alert.

Darren Douglas, 46, originally from Birmingham, escaped from Springhill open prison in Grendon Underwood in the early hours of Sunday, June 29.

Ricardo Dunn, and below, Darren Douglas

Ricardo Dunn, and below, Darren Douglas

He was arrested after being spotted by an eagle-eyed CCTV operator at Aylesbury Bus Station shortly after 4pm last Thursday, following a full-scale police manhunt lasting five days.

The operation involved a huge police presence surrounding County Hall, a helicopter, sniffer dogs and dozens of armed officers which led to Douglas being cornered in the bus station.

At the time, Aylesbury LPA commander Supt Gez Chiariello said: “We have arrested a 46-year-old man in Aylesbury today.

“I want to thank the public for their help in this investigation and the residents of Aylesbury for their patience whilst the search was carried out.

“Hopefully life in Aylesbury can now return to a state of normality.”

Violent Douglas is serving a life sentence for a murder he committed in Birmingham in 1998, where he stabbed a man during an altercation outside a pub.

Following his and fellow prisoner Ricardo Dunn’s escape, officers from across the Thames Valley Police force were drafted in to help track down the pair.

In response to the news, mugshots of the two prisoners were circulated to ensure the public kept an eye out.

Dunn, 32, was the first of the pair to be caught on Wednesday after an officer spotted him on the street in Thame Road, Southcourt, Aylesbury.

As a result, two people from the Aylesbury area – a 25-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman – have been arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender and are currently in police custody.

Dunn is serving an indeterminate sentence for GBH with intent in Burnley, where he assaulted a man after an argument in the street in 2009.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police confirmed that both convicts are now back behind bars, having been charged and recalled to prison.

The spokesman said: “There was no struggle when the men were arrested. They came quietly – they were outnumbered about 50 to one so they would not have stood much chance. They were pretty co-operative.”

Supt Chiariello said: “This was a high-profile and complicated case, which is unusual for Aylesbury Vale. It was covert stuff and that I cannot disclose for obvious reasons.

“I would not want to compromise future operations.”

Springhill’s prison governor declined to comment, but a spokesman from the Ministry of Justice said: “The Justice Secretary has been clear that keeping the public safe is our priority and has ordered immediate and major changes to tighten up temporary release processes and open prison eligibility.

“Absconds have reached record lows under this Government – down 80% over the last 10 years – but each and every incident is taken seriously, with the police 
contacted as a matter of urgency.

“Open prisons and temporary licence are an important tool in rehabilitating long term offenders but not at the expense of public safety.”