A man who was jailed for murdering a gay singer in 1992 escaped from jail two months ago, it has been revealed this week.
Gay groups are outraged that it has taken Gwent Police so long to inform them that Lee Dewhurst had failed to return to Prescoed open prison in South Wales where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of Stephen O’Hara.
He is reported to have been seen at gay events in Halifax and Huddersfield, members of the public have been warned not to approach him.
Gwent Police and West Yorkshire Police are working together to trace Dewhurst.
As part of the strategy police forces throughout the UK were notified and this resulted in Gwent Police receiving information from forces in the North of England linking Dewhurst to incidents in that area.
He is described as white, five feet eight inches tall, stocky build, dark cropped hair and balding and sometimes has a goatee beard. He originates from Rochdale.
Mike Harrison, of the Halifax Area Gay Group, told Halifax Today: “I feel it would have been helpful to let various parts of the gay community know. They could have helped the police. The police’s first duty should be protecting people.
“All members of the public should be protected and the police should make all information they have available as soon as possible.
“A two-month delay is not particularly helpful for anyone.”
Seven inmates have escaped from the prison in the last three months, including two child rapists.
Detective Inspector Gary Stephenson from Calderdale CID, West Yorkshire Police, said: “West Yorkshire Police believe he may have been in the Halifax or Huddersfield area during July and visited events attended by the gay community and we would urge people not to approach him.
“He is also originally from Greater Manchester and may have travelled to that area. Anyone who thinks they may have seen him in West Yorkshire or Greater Manchester are asked to contact DI Gary Stephenson, who is liasing with colleagues in Gwent Police in connection with this matter, on 01422 337085.”
Alternatively call your local Police station or Gwent Police on 01633 838111.