Centre Escapees Search Continues

Centre escapees search continues

All of the escapees have spent time in jail

BBC News
August 9, 2007

Police are continuing to hunt for 11 detainees who escaped from an immigration centre in Oxford.

Twenty-six men fled Campsfield House in Kidlington after a fire began on Saturday, but 15 were recaptured.

On Wednesday, police released pictures of four of the convicted escapees – two were Jamaican, one man was from Iraq and the fourth was from Vietnam.

A man, 29, held on suspicion of arson with intent, was returned to Campsfield on bail until 14 August, police said.

'Custodial sentence'

Three of the four men, whose pictures were released by Thames Valley Police, were convicted for drugs offences, the fourth, for robbery.

They are: Jamaicans O'Neil Anthony Wilson, 29, and Heardley Leon Benjamin, 38, Ali Sabir Jabar, 28, from Iraq and Cuong Hung Doan, 26, from Vietnam.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said on Wednesday the four were believed to have “links with Bristol, Leicester, Lewisham and Birmingham”.

Wilson served five years and Benjamin served four for drugs offences, Doan was imprisoned for three years for cultivation of cannabis and Jabar served three years and nine months for robbery offences.

The force is concentrating its search in London and the West Midlands.

More than 50 officers are involved in trying to find the remaining escapees – who are all convicted criminals.

Regular protests

A demonstration was held on Tuesday in support of detainees at the centre.

All of the detainees who escaped had served a custodial sentence for a range of offences and were being considered for deportation, police confirmed.

Of the 26 who escaped, 12 were caught very soon after the break out and three were found on Tuesday.

All those caught are now being held under the Immigration Act.

Campsfield is run by the American company GEO and holds up to 200 male inmates at a time.

It has been surrounded by controversy since it opened in 1993.

It has been the scene of escapes, a rooftop protest, hunger strikes and a well-organised campaign to have it shut down.

Campaign to Close Campsfield have held regular protests outside the centre to highlight what it sees as the unfair treatment of the detainees.