Weston woman sentenced for helping two sex offenders flee open prison

PUBLISHED: 06:55 14 October 2019 | UPDATED: 07:07 14 October 2019

Zara Barrett pleaded guilty to assisting two escaped prisoners.

Zara Barrett pleaded guilty to assisting two escaped prisoners.


A Weston woman who helped two sexual attackers escape from prison has been spared jail.

Zara Barrett pleaded guilty to assisting the escaped prisoners after she provided cash, accommodation and transport for Robert Horan and Daniel Hawkins, who both absconded from open prison HMP Leyhill in South Gloucestershire in April last year.

Hawkins was sentenced for offences of attempted rape and theft in December 2016 and jailed for six years, while Horan was also found guilty of sexual assault, robbery and burglary.

The duo were on the run for one week and stayed in Barrett's home.

Barrett called Apple Taxis at around 8.20pm on April 10, 2018 to conduct a return journey from Wotton-under-Edge to her home in Bridge Road.

The following day, Barrett booked and paid for another return journey for the trio to Oxford, where Hawkins and Barrett grew up.

Upon returning to Weston, an Apple Taxi driver picked the group up from a cash machine after Barrett handed Hawkins a wad of cash and the driver recognised the convicts from a public appeal made by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

Barrett spent hundreds of pounds and cleared out her bank account.

Nicholas Clough, defending, told Bristol Crown Court that Barrett was 'manipulated and cajoled' by Hawkins.

He said: "She has destroyed her good character for the rest of her life, but Hawkins is an experienced criminal who manipulated and cajoled her into giving him money and a place to stay.

"Barrett is a vulnerable woman who was targeted by Hawkins into giving away a lot of her disposable income.

"She is at low risk of reoffending and needs help and guidance."

Judge James Newton-Price on Friday handed Barrett a six-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

He said: "The proactive nature of your assistance troubles me, in text message exchanges with your sister 24 hours after their escape you denied all knowledge of such activity.

"There must have been a degree of influence and pressure upon you by Hawkins, who is a sophisticated criminal, and I take that into account along with your good character.

"This case strikes at the heart of the system."

Barrett must also undertake 150 hours of unpaid work and pay a statutory victim surcharge.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Weston Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Weston Mercury