South Shields killer turned up at hospital with knife after absconding while on day release from prison

Drake Hall Prison. Picture courtesy of Express & Star
Drake Hall Prison. Picture courtesy of Express & Star

A South Shields killer turned up at a West Yorkshire hospital with a kitchen knife in her bag after she absconded from a hostel while out of prison on day release.

Jacqueline Chesson was jailed for life back in 2005 after she stabbed her husband to death, but last month she was allowed out of Drake Hall Prison in Staffordshire for an overnight stay at a hostel in Leeds.

Chesson, 56, arrived at the hostel, but then "absented herself" and was not found until she walked into the Bradford Royal Infirmary six days later complaining of chest pains.

Prosecutor John Bull told Bradford Crown Court that Chesson, who had two convictions for wounding with a knife as well as the fatal stabbing, confessed to staff that she had "absconded from prison".

When police arrived at the hospital they searched her bag and found a kitchen knife with a four-inch blade inside it.

Chesson, who said she had been sleeping rough since leaving the hostel, couldn't explain how the knife got into her bag or where it had come from.

The prosecution decided to offer no evidence in relation to an allegation of escape, but Chesson, who is now back behind bars at New Hall Prison, pleaded guilty to having an article with a blade or point in a public place.

Mr Bull revealed that Chesson was convicted of a wounding offence in 1996 and a second knife attack in 2001.

The second incident involved her husband John Williamson, 59, who suffered a punctured lung when he was knifed in the chest at their South Shields home.

Mr Williamson's pleas to a judge led to Chesson getting a two-year community order, but in second attack a few years later she fatally stabbed him in the chest and was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 11 years.

Solicitor advocate Nicholas Leadbeater, for Chesson, said after serving 11 years in prison things appeared to be moving very quickly for this client in relation to her Parole Board hearing.

"She was moved onto an open wing of the prison and very quickly after that they allowed her the day release," he told the court.

"It was made clear this was all with a view to her eventual release on parole and certainly the impression she had was it was very imminent."

He said Chesson left prison that day with mixed emotions and when she encountered he "big, wide world" she found it exceptionally daunting.

She was provided with a mobile phone, a charger and a travel warrant to get from prison to the hostel in Leeds.

"She simply found it too much," said Mr Leadbeater.

He stressed that there was no suggestion of the knife being used or shown to anyone and submitted it was another example of her confused stated.

"The real punishment will be how the Parole Board deal with her," he added.

Jailing Chesson for 12 months Judge Colin Burn said her history and the circumstances of the incident meant a custodial sentence was absolutely inevitable.

He said the public would "terrified" at the prospect of someone like Chesson having a knife in their possession in a public hospital.

Judge Burn said the 12-month sentence would have to be "put into the mix" when the Parole Board considered whether it was safe to release Chesson.