Rapist on the run may be hiding 'in quiet areas'

June 08 2022
Rapist on the run may be hiding 'in quiet areas'

POLICE have warned that a rapist and kidnapper who absconded from Leyhill Open Prison could be hiding in "quiet areas" as he tries to stay on the run.

Detectives say that in addition to being "capable of carrying out dangerous crimes", 51-year-old Sean Phipps is likely to steal food, clothes and bikes, is likely to change his appearance and is known to use "false sob stories" to con people into helping him.

Phipps was let out on day release to Bristol a week ago, on Wednesday June 1, but failed to return to the prison near Thornbury at the end of the day. 

He was caught on CCTV at one of the exits to the Galleries shopping centre, talking to two shoppers by the Castle Park exit.

Police say the public should be vigilant and report any potential sightings of Phipps, who has convictions for rape dating from 1989 and 1993, and kidnap from 2002.

Detective Inspector Keith Smith said: "Sean Phipps will know he is a wanted man and is no doubt doing all he can to avoid being detected.

"We'd like to reassure the public we are doing everything we can to trace his movements and arrest him. 

"We are asking people to keep lookout for him to help us track him down.

"Although he has access to some money, we believe it’s more likely he is trying to avoid being spotted by staying in quiet areas, whether it be hiking along back roads or potentially sheltering away from public eye, such as woodland or in an outbuilding. 

"He will steal items such as clothing and food to survive, and will walk long distances or steal bicycles to move around on.

"We also know he has a tendency to use false sob stories to earn sympathy and help from unsuspecting members of the public." 

Police say Phipps has previously used a number of different surnames, including Cawthray, Goldthorpe and Perry.

Avon and Somerset police are working with other forces across the country, and he is known to have links to the Leicester, Leeds and Nottingham areas.

DI Smith said: "Phipps is approximately 6ft 2ins. When last seen in Bristol city centre on Wednesday 1 June he was wearing black coat over a blue top, blue jeans and Timberland footwear. He also wore a black Casio watch, blue glasses, and carried a vape pen with him. 

"Given the significant amount of work going into finding him, and the media attention now on him, it is possible he may well try to change his appearance.

"Our overriding message to anyone who knows where he is, or where he may have gone, is to contact the police or call Crimestoppers anonymously. 

"Phipps' track record shows he is capable of carrying out dangerous crimes and therefore we urge the public to help us in any way they can so we can return him to prison as soon as possible. 

"Any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, could make all the difference." 

People who see Phipps are being urged not to approach him but instead to call 999 and quote the reference number 5222 130 002.

Anyone who thinks they knows where he is or has other information can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.