A prisoner who strolled out of a Tayside jail to visit his wife more than 200 miles away was on the run for nearly a month.
Michael Broomfield, who was locked up for using a digger to steal a cash machine in Aberdeenshire, decided to escape HMP Castle Huntly to sort out a relationship issue at his marital home in the north of England.
Perth Sheriff Court heard how the 34-year-old casually stepped out of the open prison on February 22 and walked into Dundee, before making his way to County Durham.
Walked out of prison
Fiscal depute Michael Swinney said his disappearance was noticed about an hour after he left.
“It was 7pm and staff at Castle Huntly were in the process of completing prison lockdown procedures.
“They discovered that the accused was not in his room.
“A full recount was carried out and CCTV footage was reviewed.”
Officers saw footage of Broomfield, just before 6pm, walking past the gym hall and leaving the perimeter of the prison.
“He was heading in the direction of the A90,” said Mr Sweeney.
“The prison grounds and the accused’s room were then searched, and at about 8pm police were contacted to assist.”
Broomfield, who has 71 previous convictions mostly for dishonesty and violence, was arrested in Campeltown on March 19, having evaded police for a total of 25 days.
‘Shot himself in the foot’
His solicitor Eugene Boyle said: “He’s never done anything like this before. He has really shot himself in foot.”
He told Sheriff William Wood that, until then, his client had been behaving well behind bars.
“He was initially at HMP Grampian but was moved to the open prison after good reports. He was enjoying being in a more relaxed regime.
“But things took a turn for the worst and he had a falling out with his wife.
“He took it into his head that he should try and get back his home in Spennymoor, in the north-east of England.”
Mr Boyle said: “He walked into Dundee from Castle Huntly and was able to get all the way back to his wife.
“He regretted his decision, and he ultimately returned to Scotland. He was getting round to the idea of handing himself in when he was apprehended by police.”
Broomfield, appearing in court via videolink, pleaded guilty to attempting to defeat the ends of justice by taking off from Castle Huntly in February.
The court heard that his chances of now making parole were now “virtually zero”.
Mr Boyle said: “I spoke to his wife and she tells me that her husband had suffered from depression and that his father had died last year.
“His father was one of his biggest supporters.”
Sheriff Wood told Broomfield: “I have to take into account your record, which is appalling.
“The only appropriate sentence is a further period of imprisonment.”
Broomfield, now a prisoner at HMP Grampian, was jailed for an extra 12 months.
Whilst acting with others, he helped haul away an ATM from Scotmid Foods in Torphins, Aberdeenshire.
Chains were attached to the cashpoint to lift it onto a getaway car. But the plan was foiled when the car broke down, and Broomfield’s fingerprints were found on the vehicle.