Petition to end open prison for thugs after robber escapes from Sheppey

War vet OAP George Rowe... stabbed in throat and robbed in 2003

War vet OAP George Rowe... stabbed in throat and robbed in 2003 - Credit: Archant

A woman has made an emotional call for action after the violent thug who stabbed her grandfather managed to escape from an open prison.

Prison escaper Sabul Miah... stabbed George Rowe for his pension

Prison escaper Sabul Miah... stabbed George Rowe for his pension - Credit: Archant

Lindsay McFarlane’s 79-year-old granddad George Rowe was mugged in 2003 in the lift of his block of flats in Stepney in London’s East End.

He was returning home from collecting his pension at a post office in Limehouse when Sabul Miah knifed him in the throat and snatched the £149 from his pocket.

George, a Second World War veteran who earned a living selling newspapers on the streets and collecting his pension, died four months later after deteriorating health.

Miah was given two life sentences at Southwark crown court for a series of violent robberies of pensioners in the East End.

He was moved to Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey earlier this year, but escaped on October 23. He was recaptured five days later.

The ordeal for George’s family while Miah was on the run has prompted Lindsay to launch a petition calling for a stop to violent criminals being put in open prisons.

Most Read

“Miah being on the run was like going through the attack all over again,” 33-year-old Lindsay said. “It was such a difficult time for my family.”

Her online petition now has almost 1,200 signatures, with another thousand names on paper, while she is also lobbying politicians including London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Her grandfather recovered at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel after his ordeal.

But his health rapidly deteriorated and he died from cancer four months later. His family at the time blamed his failing health on the brutal attack, which Lindsay said changed him from “a lively, confident man to someone who would sit there scared”.

She added: “We need to make sure the right people go to the right prisons.

“No family should have to go through what we did the first time round—but certainly shouldn’t have to go through it twice.”

Prisons minister Andrew Selous said 99 per cent of releases on temporary licence pass without incident. But changes have recently been made.

The minister said: “This comprehensive review has tightened eligibility and we have already seen a 40 per cent fall in release failures in the last 12 months.”

Lindsay’s online petition calls for the Home Office to end the policy of placing violent criminals in open prisons.