Two men who walked out of an open prison are back behind bars after they were picked up in Middlesbrough.

Stephen Roberts and Aaron Gornall failed to return to HMP Kirkham in Preston on June 28 before heading across the Pennines.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the pair were later arrested on the Grove Hill estate as they made their way to Roberts’ mother’s home.

Jonathan Walker, prosecuting, said both defendants maintained they had left the open prison as they were fearful for their own safety after getting into debt with other inmates.

Read next: 'Controlling' man jailed for breaching court order when two women found in his home

Roberts, 41, now of HMP Durham, and 34-year-old Gornall, originally from the Grimsby area, both pleaded guilty to absconding from custody after going on the run.

Emma Williams, mitigating on behalf of Roberts, said her client felt threatened while he was in the prison.

And Michele Turner, for Gornall, her client was in exactly the same position.

The Northern Echo: HMP KirkhamHMP Kirkham

Recorder David Brooke KC sentenced the pair to an additional six months to run after they have completed their current prison term.

Read more:

Get all the latest crime and court updates, for less than the price of a coffee, with a Premium Plus digital subscription to The Northern Echo. Click here

“You both walked out of the open prison and you have both pleaded guilty,” he said. “You both indicated it was pressure from other prisoners that resulted in you doing so.

“You do know that is no excuse – you are both heavily convicted and serving substantial sentences already.”