AN opportunist prisoner who escaped from prison in Cheshire was caught on his return to the UK after sunning himself in southern Spain.

Paul McCormack had been on the run for just short of five months when he was arrested at Liverpool John Lennon Airport last month.

The 54-year-old had evaded police for a significant period after absconding from HM Prison Thorn Cross in Appleton Thorn.

He has since been returned to prison after being sentenced last Wednesday at Chester Crown Court.

A spokesman for Cheshire Police confirmed that officers received a report that the prisoner had absconded from HM Prison Thorn Cross at 7.50pm on July 4 last year.

The prisoner was identified to be McCormack, who was serving a sentence of indeterminate length for public protection at the open prison at the time.

This sentence was handed down at Liverpool Crown Court on February 14, 2006, following the defendant’s conviction for attempted robbery.

An indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection is intended for people considered ‘dangerous’ but whose offence did not merit a life sentence.

In common with the life sentence, it includes and unlimited period of detention until the person can prove that they are no longer a threat to the public.

Paul McCormack absconded from HM Prison Thorn Cross in Appleton Thorn

Paul McCormack absconded from HM Prison Thorn Cross in Appleton Thorn

During a roll call check at Thorn Cross, McCormack could not be found, which resulted in absconder procedures being instigated and followed.

Prison staff reviewed CCTV footage, which revealed that the defendant had left the prison grounds at around 6.40pm earlier that evening.

After close to five months evading police, he was eventually arrested on December 1 at 2.50pm at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

Officers brought him into custody after he had arrived back in the country on a flight from Malaga.

He was subsequently charged with escaping from prison.

McCormack, listed on court documents as having no fixed abode, but with a postcode matching HM Prison Thorn Cross, appeared at Chester Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Here, he pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced by judge Michael Leeming to an additional eight months in prison.

The defendant appeared in court via video-link from HM Prison Altcourse.