Man serving life sentence for Leeds murder arrested after absconding from open prison

William (Billy) Kerr.
William (Billy) Kerr.

A prisoner serving a life sentence for murder who absconded from an open prison has been arrested.

Suffolk Police launched a manhunt for William Kerr, also known as Billy, an inmate at Hollesley Bay prison, after he failed to return at 3pm on Friday to a rendezvous point in Ipswich where he was on a few hours’ release.

The force said Kerr, 56, was apprehended after a member of public spotted him in the town’s centre.

Locals had been advised not to approach the killer and officers “attended immediately”.

Kerr was jailed in 1998 for the murder of Maureen Comfort, whose body was found in a cupboard in her flat in Leeds in January 1996. She had been strangled.

The murderer sparked a nationwide police hunt in 2015 when he absconded from a bail hostel in Hull after he was released from prison on licence.

On that occasion he was arrested a month later in the street in the Waterloo area in south London.

Suffolk Police said on Saturday: “William Kerr, who was reported missing by prison authorities after failing to return to a rendezvous point in Ipswich during the afternoon of Friday December 1, has been arrested by police.

“Following our earlier media release, an alert member of the public, who had seen his photograph, telephoned police to report seeing him in Ipswich town centre.

“Officers attended immediately and he was taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre pending his transfer back to the prison system.

“Suffolk Police would like to thank everybody who reported potential sightings of him during his absence.”