Killer on run from secure hospital

Thurrock Gazette: Northumbria Police are hunting for Phillip Westwater, dubbed the Black Dog Strangler, who has escaped from a secure psychiatric hospital in Newcastle Northumbria Police are hunting for Phillip Westwater, dubbed the Black Dog Strangler, who has escaped from a secure psychiatric hospital in Newcastle

A convicted killer dubbed the Black Dog Strangler has been found after escaping from a secure hospital, police said.

Phillip Westwater, 44, fled St Nicholas Hospital in Gosforth, Newcastle, at 10am on Wednesday after asking to go to the toilet.

He was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act following a pub fight in 1989, then strangled fellow patient Derek Williams at Ashworth Hospital, Liverpool, with his dressing gown cord.

He admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, having become convinced his victim had turned into a black dog.

Northumbria Police said Westwater had been found after a member of the public recognised him from the circulated photograph.

A spokeswoman said: "The missing man has been located safe and well in the Newcastle area. Officers will be taking him back to the secure unit at St Nicholas's Hospital. A call was made by a member of the public who contacted police after recognising a photo of Phillip."

Northumbria Police earlier said the public should not approach Westwater, who was described as white, 6ft and of slim build, with brown/grey hair.

Westwater, from Newcastle, married a nurse while he was a patient at high-security Rampton Hospital in 2008. He and his bride, reported to be Claire Dudley, wed in a social club at the Nottinghamshire hospital.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said the right to marry was enshrined in the 1988 Human Rights Act. A hospital spokeswoman denied the couple could consummate their marriage while he was being treated there.

In 1989 Westwater left a drinker paralysed for life after slashing him across the throat with a shard of glass in a pub fight. He killed Williams at Ashworth Hospital the following year. Before being treated at Rampton, Westwater had also been a patient at Broadmoor. St Nicholas Hospital in Newcastle is considered a medium-security unit.

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