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Killer on the run in Wolverhampton claimed benefits

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A brutal murderer has been caught in the Black Country - after nine years of living openly, claiming benefits and even going on a foreign holiday.

Hell's Angel David Richards is back in custody after being captured in Wolverhampton.

He absconded from Sudbury Open Prison in Derbyshire in 2005.

While on the run, the 53-year-old was able to rent a flat, claim thousands in disability benefits for a leg ailment and even travel to Ireland. He was arrested when police were tipped off to an address in the city.

Richards was sentenced to life with a minimum tariff of 16 years in December 1984 for the drug-fuelled murder of 16-year-old Michael Groves at his flat in west London. But he was still considered dangerous enough to be behind bars 21 years later.

He attacked the teenager with a knife, hammer and wrench, leaving him with 56 injuries, before writing 'Hell's Angels' on the wall in his blood.

Today, his parents Eric and Patricia Richards from Penn, said they had been shocked to find out he was a fugitive.

Mrs Richards, aged 79, said: "I broke down in tears. As far as we were concerned, and David was concerned, he was a free man. He never hid from anyone and was even claiming disability benefits. He's had a passport and travelled to Ireland so he's not exactly been lying low. He walked out of the open prison because he couldn't handle the stress and bullying. He only had a few months left to serve."

Mr Richards, who is in his 80s, added: "He was a wally in his youth. The authorities have messed up, not David."

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Richards absconded on May 17, 2005 and was arrested on Friday. He appeared at Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court on Saturday, charged with escaping from custody, and was remanded in prison. He is due to appear at crown court on August 29.

Mr Groves' family today demanded an urgent inquiry. His sister Louise Bull, 42, from Fareham, Hampshire, said: "My family were fobbed off again and again. We deserve to know what went wrong."

She said that in 2005, a police family liaison officer even refused to tell her which prison he walked out of because of the killer's 'right to privacy'.

Derbyshire Assistant Chief Constable Karl Smethem said: "When he absconded his details were circulated on the Police National Computer. Officers carried out periodic checks to find him but had not uncovered any positive leads."

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