Relatives of a convicted murderer who has escaped from prison are helping police as they look to track him down.
Oldbury man Alan Giles fled from an ‘open’ section of HMP Hewell, near Redditch, Worcestershire, on Monday.
Police are focusing their search on Redditch and south Warwickshire as they look to catch the 56-year-old, who was jailed 16 years ago for murdering 16-year-old Kevin Ricketts in 1995.
Officers said Giles may have absconded because he was ‘down’ and believe he is either in a hotel or staying with someone he knows.
Giles was last checked in his cell at 6am on Monday morning – by 11am prison officers realised he was no longer at the prison.
Chief inspector Paul Judge of West Mercia Police told the Express & Star that Giles escaped on foot and no sightings have been made of him since. He added: “We’re in contact with his family, in terms of any positive leads or inquiries, and they’ve been working with us to help identify where he is.
“Some of the family are in Oldbury – his contacts range across the West Midlands.”
Chief Insp Judge urged Giles – who is eligible for parole next year – to hand himself in, but asked the public not to approach him.
“We need to make an appeal to anybody that’s harbouring him at the moment – it is a criminal offence if you are harbouring him,” he added. “It’s likely he’s seeking shelter, either in a hotel or with someone he knows.
“Our concerns were that one of the reasons for him leaving HMP Hewell was that he may have been down. That’s not the only hypothesis we’ve got but it is a consideration. We don’t know the true rationale for why he’s chosen to leave an open prison and abscond.
“We do need to understand what the motive is for him going. We’ve had good support from the public – we’ve had some calls in – none of them have turned out to be positive leads but we’re very grateful for that support.”
Ricketts’ family are being protected by West Midlands Police.
A woman believed to be Mr Ricketts’ niece took to Twitter on Monday night to say her family had been told to stay in their houses until Giles was found.
He is believed to be wearing a grey Rockport sweater, blue jeans and white Asics trainers, and has distinctive tattoos of an eagle on his back and a swallow, shark and flower on his left arm.