Fugitive who killed in Plymouth could face extradition
A KILLER who mutilated his aunt in a frenzied knife attack in Plymouth has been arrested in Australia after 15 years on the run.
Simon Hennessey was jailed for life for stabbing the woman to death when he was just 14.
But he walked out of an open prison in 1998 – only to be caught in Queensland by police investigating a huge credit card fraud.
Hennessey, now in his late 40s, faces extradition back to Britain.
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He stabbed 72-year-old Mary Webber 70 times at her home in Alma Road in 1978.
Hennessey admitted killing his aunt, pleading mental illness.
He escaped twice before being sent to an open prison, HMP Leyhill in Gloucestershire.
Hennessey walked out of the prison in 1998 and has not been seen since.
He was arrested in the Sunshine Coast, Australia, by detectives investigating a series of credit card frauds.
He gave a false name and said he was 44, and appeared in court locally several times during April and May this year, facing 50 charges of fraud.
Hennessey had set up false companies to extract credit card details, and then used a "skimming machine" to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars from bank accounts.
Australian police soon realised that the name and details the British man in their cells had given them belonged to an innocent New Zealander with the same date of birth.
They were stunned to discover the man they had in custody was wanted 10,000 miles away.
More investigations revealed that Hennessey had been living from the proceeds of frauds under false identities for years.
The Australian media soon dubbed him a "Frank Abagnale character" – after the fraudster who was portrayed by Leonardo di Caprio, in the film Catch Me If You Can.
Sunshine Coast prosecuting chief Daren Edwards told The Courier-Mail in Queensland: "He spent 20 years in jail and escaped in 1998. He had not been seen or heard of until he was picked up at Tewantin.
"We knew there was more to him and it appears he has used several identities. We believe he has moved between Thailand, New Zealand and Australia.
The Queensland paper reported: "The tall, slim, clean-cut and smooth-talking man is believed to have travelled the world under false passports, staying with contacts, or women he had charmed, mainly in small, quieter communities. He is believed to have spent time at Tewantin, Cooroy and the Gold Coast."
A spokeswoman for Avon and Somerset Police said officers are now in touch with the authorities in Queensland to start possible extradition proceedings.
Hennessey is due back in court in Australia next month. He is likely to face prosecution for the frauds but could be sent back to Britain to serve his sentence.