Latest John Howard absconsion: Violent mental health patient ran away in Homerton

James Rehill

James Rehill - Credit: Archant

Police have warned the public to call 999 immediately should they see fourth patient to abscond from the John Howard mental health secure unit in as many months, warning that he can be violent.

James Rehill, 42, was on escorted leave from the John Howard Centre yesterday when he ran off in Homerton Road.

He was last seen boarding a bus towards Leyton.

James Rehill was detained under the Mental Health Act and he can be violent.

He is described as 5ft 7ins in height and of slim build, with short blond hair and a ginger beard.

He was last seen wearing a red shirt, grey jumper, black Adidas jacket, blue Adidas jogging bottoms and black Nike Air Max trainers.

Last month managers at the centre in Kenworthy Road, Homerton, bowed to pressure and announced they will adopt the idea to tag detainees on escorted leave, after the third patient went missing this year in as many months.

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The month before the Gazette asked Dr Paul Gilluley, head of forensic services at the centre, if tagging patients had ever been considered, but he said no.

But he said management would consider the idea, which was supported by MP Meg Hillier, as well as the police who said they would also raise the issue with the unit.

Electronic tagging surveillance is not now due for introduction until the summer however.

The centre, which specialises in caring for detainees with personality disorders, has been the subject of multiple investigations due to the number of escapes.

A Freedom of Information request revealed 200 criminals have absconded whilst under the care of the medium secure psychiatric unit in the past decade. Last October child snatcher Shane Hart, 54, was with two escorts when he gave them the slip – the second time he had disappeared whist on escorted leave within the space of five years. He found two days later after a massive operation.

And schizophrenic Samuel Lee who is serving time for raping a disabled woman, was described by the police as “violent” when he absconded for three days while on unsupervised leave last June.

Last month Dr Paul Gilluley apologised for the absconsions. He said: “I acknowledge the offender’s history would frighten the public particularly relating to the sexual offences, but in all those cases we have tried to manage the risks while rehabilitating back into the community.”

Peter Kerrigan, 26, an Irish Traveller dubbed one of ‘Britain’s most prolific burglars’ who would target vulnerable pensioners dressed as a police officer, is still at large after going AWOL in March.