"Black Dog Strangler" found and returned to hospital

The Northern Echo: Found: Phillip Westwater Found: Phillip Westwater

POLICE searching for a convicted killer dubbed the 'Black Dog Strangler' who escaped a secure hospital in Newcastle said he has now been found.

Phillip Westwater, 44, also known as Phillip Whiteman, left St Nicholas Hospital on Jubilee Road in Gosforth, Newcastle, this morning.

Westwater was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act 20 years ago.

In 1989, Westwater, originally from Newcastle, left a drinker paralysed for life after slashing him across the throat with a shard of glass.

He later strangled fellow patient Derek Williams, 30, with a dressing gown cord at Ashworth Hospital in Liverpool after becoming convinced his victim had turned into a black dog.

He admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Northumbria Police said Westwater was being escorted in the hospital when he asked to go to the toilets from where he escaped at around 10am.

Earlier tonight a spokesperson said police had concerns for his welfare, because he is diabetic and only had enough insulin to last three days.

Members of the public were asked not to approach him and dial 999 if they saw him.

However a short time ago Northumbria Police said Westwater had been found safe and well in the Newcastle area.

"Officers will be taking him back to a secure unit at St Nicholas Hospital," said a spokeswoman.

He was found after a member of the public who recognised him from a photograph called police.

A Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said earlier that Westwater will have undergone a risk assessment before he was escorted by a member of staff, 

"Patients in receipt of hospital care routinely undertake periods of planned or escorted leave as part of their treatment plans, which are designed to help in their recovery.

"Before being granted leave, all patients are rigorously risk- assessed.

"In the rare event that a patient does go missing, we have agreed protocols in place with our colleagues at Northumbria Police to ensure that patients are returned to hospital as quickly as possible."

Westwater has previously been detained at Rampton secure hospital in Nottinghamshire and high security hospital Broadmoor.

He married a fellow patient at Broadmoor but the couple divorced in 2000.

He then began a secret romance with nursing assistant Claire Dudley, who worked on his ward at Rampton high security hospital in Nottinghamshire.

The couple married at Rampton in November 2008.

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