Family of Gemma Roberts didn’t know her killer escaped open prison for 24 hours

The family of Gemma Roberts say they didn't know her killer escaped an open prison until 24 hours after he absconded.

Richard Hanson, branded "highly dangerous" by psychology experts, was given a life sentence behind bars in 2007.

Hanson cut the student's throat with a piece of a broken bottle near a pub in Liversedge, Yorkshire, in a random attack the year prior.

On Friday afternoon, Hanson, 35, fled HMP Thorn Cross, an open prison based in Cheshire, and has not been seen since.

Police have warned not to approach Hanson if they see him, and instead immediately call 999 to alert officers of his whereabouts.

He is said to have links to Dewsbury, Huddersfield, and Oldham in Manchester.

Gemma's sister, Leanne, told YorkshireLive the family were not told about his escape for 24 hours, and say they were never aware he was in an open prison.

She said: "We didn't know he was in an open prison. We were told there would be a possibility [but] they never told us [he had been transferred]."

Gemma's mother only heard of the situation from messages before West Yorkshire Police could contact her, as officers attempted to get in touch with her at home and work but she was not in.

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After receiving the messages she met her daughters and attended a nearby police station.

Leanne says she plans to contact her solicitor to complain over Hanson's transfer to the open jail.

At the time of his sentencing, Judge Peter Collier QC, told the killer: "You are, in my view, a very dangerous young man and the only sentence I can pass on you is a sentence of life imprisonment."

At the time of her death, Gemma's family described the 18-year-old as a "loving, caring person who would never hurt anyone."

"Gemma was taken away from us so tragically," they said. "We will miss her terribly and we will never forget her."

Cheshire Police and West Yorkshire Police have urged anyone with information on Hanson's whereabouts to call 999.

Hanson is described as white, 6' 3" tall of medium build with short brown hair.

He was last spotted wearing white trainers, grey jogging bottoms and a dark blue North Face gilet with a white logo on the right shoulder blade.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call 999, quoting IML 1070880.

Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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