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Violent London armed robber absconds from open prison

PUBLISHED: 17:42 30 May 2014 | UPDATED: 18:46 30 May 2014

Simon Rhodes-Butler absconded from Category D HMP Ford open prison on May 22 (Picture: Sussex Police/PA Wire

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Simon Rhodes-Butler absconded from Category D HMP Ford open prison on May 22 (Picture: Sussex Police/PA Wire )

A violent armed robber from London is missing after he absconded from an open jail more than a week ago.

Simon Rhodes-Butler is the latest in a series of prisoners to have recently gone on the run, including notorious criminal Michael ‘Skull Cracker’ Wheatley.

The 37-year-old, originally from Offord Road, Islington, was jailed for seven years in September 2011 for a robbery on a garage owner in south London.

Sussex Police said Rhodes-Butler absconded from HMP Ford, a Category D open prison in West Sussex, on May 22.

Efforts to find him in the past week have failed, with an appeal now launched to find the fugitive, who has friends and family in London.

The public are warned not to approach him but to call 999 immediately if he is spotted.

Rhodes-Butler and his accomplice Ilyas Ismal attacked and robbed a garage owner of his Rolex watch in south Norwood in March 2011.

Croydon Crown Court heard that the owner of the mechanics garage feared for his life after the pair walked in and wrestled him to the ground.

PC Steve Reed, of Sussex Police, said: “We have been looking for Rhodes-Butler for a week but without success so far.

“We need to speak to anyone who might have an idea where he could be or where he has been staying.”

A string of criminals have gone on the run from open prisons recently, with Wheatley the most high-profile of them.

The 55-year-old was jailed for life this week for a raid on a building society he committed while on the run from HMP Standford Hill in Kent.

His case sparked a political row over the day release of dangerous criminals.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Rhodes-Butler is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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