Gran too scared to leave house after jail escape

Leighton pensioner Frances Gordon
Leighton pensioner Frances Gordon

News of a “dangerous” escaped prisoner has brought back painful memories to a great-grandmother from Leighton Buzzard.

Two years ago, Frances Gordon, 81, was attacked by escaped convict Daniel Puncheon as she walked along the Grand Union Canal.

Absconded prisoner John Rooney.

Absconded prisoner John Rooney.

Puncheon punched and throttled Mrs Gordon in an attempted robbery. He was later caught and sentenced to two years and six months in prison.

Now, news of kidnapper John Rooney’s escape from the same open prison, Springhill in Buckinghamshire, has brought back Frances’s fears.

She said: “He [Puncheon] left me with injuries that can never be repaired.

“Rooney is considered extremely dangerous and so was the man who attacked me.

“I’m 4ft 9in, and the man who attacked me was over 6ft and weighed 14 stone. I didn’t stand a chance. If someone else hadn’t came along he would have killed me.”

Since her attack in July 2013, Frances has worked hard to rebuild her life. She regularly goes to the shops in Leighton Buzzard and is well-known in the community.

But news of Rooney’s escape has threatened to throw all of that into disarray.

Rooney was serving 27 years for robbery and kidnap, having been jailed in 2003. He scaped from prison at 6.30am last Monday morning.

Frances said: “People need to be told that there’s a violent criminal out there.

“It upset me when I heard about it on the radio. My niece was with me and she was shaking and I’m scared again looking over my shoulder.

“It’s not fair that people have to feel like that.”

Mrs Gordon plans to write to MP Andrew Selous in his capacity as justice minister, about the escapes from Springhill.

She added: “It does make you wonder, these dangerous men, whether they should be in open prisons.

“There’s not a chance I’d ever go near the canal again. My family don’t want me to go there either.”

Anyone with information contact police on 101.