A DRUG dealing pensioner walked out of Hewell prison in Tardebigge and escaped to Spain to be with his sick wife.

Patrick Duffy, who was jailed for dealing cannabis, walked out of HMP Hewell, caught a ferry and hitch hiked to Alicante in Spain to be reunited with his wife of 50 years.

The 69-year-old spent seven months at large in Spain at an address that was already known to the authorities, before he was extradited following the execution of a European Arrest Warrant.

Duffy, who had admitted escaping lawful custody, appeared at Worcester Crown Court on Monday, June 11 via video-link from HMP Hewell.

Michael Conry, prosecuting, said Duffy had been jailed for 56 months in May 2016 for possession of a class B drug with intent to supply, having previously been a man of good character.

Duffy, who was described by the judge as a model prisoner until his escape, was transferred to HMP Hewell and had only been there a month when he absconded during the roll call on June 1 last year.

A warrant for his arrest was issued in January this year and he was arrested and brought before the court in Spain on February 5.

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He was arrested by British police when he arrived at Heathrow Airport and placed before the UK courts on May 1.

Nina Grahame, for Duffy, said he had entered a guilty plea at the first hearing before the crown court. Miss Grahame said there was 'no planning of any significance' involved when he absconded and no violence was used.

He had served more than 13 months of his jail sentence at the time of his escape before he took 'a rather rash decision which he now regrets'.

Miss Grahame said Duffy's wife had been suffering from mental health issues, including clinical depression, since he was jailed.

"She is clearly a very unwell lady" said Miss Grahame. "He's devoted to his wife and would do anything in his power to save her from further anxiety."

Judge Nicholas Cole said Duffy had comprehensively breached the trust placed in him by the prison authorities.

He said: "I accept this was not a sophisticated escape. There was no violence involved.

"This period of incarceration was the first time you had been apart. I accept it would have been difficult for both of you.

"I accept your wife was facing great difficulties but you must understand that there's no excuse for escaping from custody."

Duffy was jailed for six months, which must be served on top of the remainder of his existing sentence for dealing cannabis.

The 84 days he spent in custody in Spain will automatically count towards the length of his prison sentence.