By Oliver Farrimond
A VIOLENT criminal nicknamed “The Hawk” has turned himself in after being on the run for almost a week.
The criminal, whose real name is Brian Martin, escaped on Monday May 18 from Castle Huntly Open Prison in Angus, where he was serving a 10-year sentence for firearms offences.
Tayside Police reported yesterday that 51-year-old Martin had handed himself into Kinross Police Station after a direct appeal from police.
Kenny MacAskill, Justice Secretary, said: “Our police officers do an excellent job on behalf of the law abiding public, and they have demonstrated that once again in the professional way they closed the net on Brian Martin.
“The Scottish Government has acted to make the open prison system much more secure than in the past – however, no-one disputes that in any system there will be failures of assessment, and there will be an investigation into the circumstances of this case.
“I have written to Mike Ewart, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service, to ensure that any further lessons are learned and applied, while at the same recognising the substantial improvement achieved by the officers and staff of our prison service.”
Mr Martin previously had convictions for violence and armed robbery, and was once dubbed “the most dangerous man in Britain.”
He escaped from Castle Huntly open prison just months after being transferred from maximum security Shotts prison, a move which led to calls for Justice Secretary MacAskill to step down.
Iain Gray, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, led the calls from Mr MacAskill to resign, and said: “When he walked out of the open prison on Monday, Brian Martin was just three years into a 10-year sentence for firing a gun during a fight in a house in Fife.
“His previous offences included a string of armed robberies and threatening police with a sawn-off shotgun.
“This is a man once dubbed the most dangerous man in Britain – will the First Minister agree Brian Martin should not have been in an open prison in the first place?”
Dubbed “The Hawk” because of his crooked nose, Martin was branded a “highly dangerous criminal” in 2005 after firing a gun during a fight over a stolen car.
He was arrested by armed police at a caravan site in Perthshire after a lengthy search operation that used road blocks and teams of tracker dogs.
Following Martin’s escape, the Scottish Prison Service defended the decision to house Martin at Castle Huntly.
A spokeswoman said: “We place great importance on prisoners being afforded the opportunity to prepare for release.
“All prisoners who go to open estate are rigorously assessed.”