French police have launched a manhunt for a mentally ill British man who escaped from a psychiatric hospital where he had been committed for the brutal murder of his cellmate.
The man, identified by local newspaper L’Est Republicain as 52-year-old John Herbert originally from Fulham in south London, disappeared from the hospital in Novillars, close to the Swiss border in western France, overnight Wednesday, police said.
L’Est Republicain said Herbert is well known in the local area and should be considered as “dangerous or even very dangerous”.
Staff at the hospital realised he was missing early Thursday morning after discovering he had placed a guitar under his bed sheets to make it look like he was sleeping, judicial sources told the AFP news agency.
Herbert was forcibly committed to the hospital after beating his cellmate to death with a four-kilo weight in September 2011 while behind bars in nearby Bonneville, where he had been serving a six-month jail term for failing to comply with a legal supervision order linked to a conviction for the rape of his female partner in June 2010.
Herbert was declared mentally unfit to stand trial for the murder and diagnosed with acute schizophrenia, said L’Est Republicain.
He is described as having short brown hair, measuring 1.91 metres (six-feet two-inches) tall and weighing 84 kilos (185 pounds).
He speaks good French, with an English accent, and may be wearing glasses, police said. He was last seen wearing Bermuda shorts, a light-coloured T-shirt and flip-flops.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact them on +33 (0)800 00 48 43.
Date created : 2014-08-29