A PROLIFIC criminal who escaped prison by climbing over a wall was found asleep in a crashed and stolen car in Basingstoke.

Tony Ayres broke out of HMP Sudbury in Derbyshire with his cellmate and another prisoner on June 9, this year, but was found three days later.

The 31-year-old appeared at Winchester Crown Court today (Wednesday) where he pleaded guilty to escaping from lawful custody.

Prosecuting, Beverley Cherrill said that Ayres was jailed in December 2019 for four years for burglary and theft and could have been released in September.

The court was told that Ayres had absconded in the hope that he would be moved to another prison after he was targeted by other inmates.

In mitigation, Sophie Chaplin said: “He had been doing very well in prison and the problem came when he moved in with another prisoner, unbeknown to Mr Ayres at the time that prisoner was a prolific drug taker.

“When you move into a cell with a cellmate any problems with that cell are taken together. This cellmate, who had a drug problem, had built up a significant drug debt.

“This caused Mr Ayres some issues with other members of the prison population.”

Ms Chaplin said that Ayres was assaulted in the showers by five prisoners, and was asked to pick up parcels that had been bought into prison, but he refused.

Ayres had repeatedly asked to be moved but those requests were said to have unanswered.

On the morning of the escape Ayres’ cellmate said he “could not take it any longer and he was going to leave” and Ayres left with him.

“At the time Mr Ayres felt that he had no choice, but he entirely recognises in hindsight that leaving the prison was not the right thing to do,” Ms Chaplin said.

“It seems that clearly things were not going right for Mr Ayres in prison, and he tried to get himself moved and put the prison on notice that he was having difficulty.”

She added that Ayres knew he would be caught and would end up going to a different prison.

The judge, Mr Recorder Roger Harris jailed Ayres for six months, consecutive to the sentence he is already serving.