Convicted killer and rapist arrested in Eastbourne

Convicted killer and rapist Samuel Lee was recaptured in Eastbourne.
Convicted killer and rapist Samuel Lee was recaptured in Eastbourne.

A convicted killer and rapist who absconded from a mental health centre was arrested in Eastbourne on Sunday evening.

Police officers launched a manhunt for Samuel Lee after he failed to return from an authorised trip from the John Howard Centre in Hackney, East London last Thursday afternoon.

The 44-year-old, who had been described as ‘violent’ by police, is serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2006 of snatching a 31-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer in Finsbury Park, North London and raping her during a terrifying hour-long attack in 2000.

Just a decade earlier, in 1989, he was jailed for manslaughter after he stabbed a man to death.

Police officers thanked the public and the press for their help in tracking him down.

Lee’s escape came after a string of dangerous convicts absconded from open prisons while on day release in recent weeks, including armed robber Michael Wheatley, who is dubbed the ‘skullcracker’, and murderer Arnold Pickering. Wheatley was jailed for life after raiding a Surrey building society while on the run from an open prison, while Pickering was recaptured after visiting Liverpool on licence earlier this month.

The abscondments have sparked a political row and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has vowed to tighten rules surrounding prisoners’ trips out from open prisons.