Manhunt launched after convicted killer who strangled woman with belt escapes from open prison

·2-min read
Marcus Coates, who killed a woman by strangling her with a belt, absconded from HMP Leyhill in Gloucestershire. (SWNS)
Marcus Coates, who killed a woman by strangling her with a belt, absconded from HMP Leyhill in Gloucestershire. (SWNS)

A manhunt has been launched after a convicted killer who strangled a woman with a belt went on the run from an open prison.

Marcus Coates, 54, killed Jennie Banner, 32, in August 2011 and left her body for five days.

He was convicted of manslaughter in 2012, when a judge described him as "dangerous" and that he had shown no remorse for his crime. 

At the time, Coates was also branded a danger by police, who described him as having a "long history of violent offending".

The 54-year-old has now absconded from HMP Leyhill, an open prison in Gloucestershire, prompting a manhunt by police. 

Coates, 54, was jailed in 2012 after being cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter. (SWNS)
Coates, 54, was jailed in 2012 after being cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter. (SWNS)

Forces across Britain are believed to be looking out for the killer, who was last seen near a bus station in Bristol between 8.30-9.30am on Thursday, 28 October. 

Coates is said to have links to Kent – where he committed the killing – and London, but could be anywhere in the country.

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At the time of his disappearance, he was captured on CCTV wearing a blue polo shirt, blue jacket, blue jeans and grey Puma trainers.

He is described as 5 ft 10 in tall, with blue eyes and receding mousey brown hair.

Coates also has a number of distinctive tattoos, including his own name on his hand, a heart and West Ham FC on his right arm, and a female’s name across his knuckles on his right hand.

Coates was last seen near Bristol Bus Station between 8.30-9.30am on Thursday 28 October. (SWNS)
Coates was last seen near Bristol Bus Station between 8.30-9.30am on Thursday, 28 October. (SWNS)

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police urged anyone who saw the criminal to get in touch with police. 

The force said: "If you see Coates, don’t approach, call 999 and give reference number 5221253377.

"If you know where he may be, call 101 and use the same reference number."

Coates was cleared of murdering Jennie Banner by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court in 2012, but convicted of manslaughter.

The court heard he had strangled Banner with a belt during a sex session then left her body under a duvet in the bedroom of her flat before reporting the matter five days later.

He claimed her death was an accident and he had been unable to release the belt, which he claimed she had asked him to put round her neck.

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