'Black Dog Strangler' caught after a day on the run

A convicted killer dubbed the 'Black Dog Strangler' has been found and returned to a secure hospital after a day on the run. The missing patient patient Philip Whiteman has been returned to St Nicholas Hospital, Jubilee Road, Gosforth, Northumbria Police said. Officers received a call from a member of the public who spotted the 44-year-old in Newcastle after recognising a photo of him.

Earlier, Northumbria Police's Superintendent Derek Scott told ITV Tyne Tees that Philip Whiteman was a "medium risk" missing person who was "insulin dependent". The 'Black Dog Strangler' previously had the name Phillip Westwater but is now known as Philip Whiteman. Phillip Westwater was being escorted from his ward to a restaurant in a separate building - but still on hospital grounds - when he went missing.

Philip Whiteman has a distinctive tattoo. Credit: Northumbria Police

Police are understood to have contacted friends and family of the 'Black Dog Strangler' who live in the Tyneside area. He would have undergone a risk assessment before he was escorted by a member of staff, a Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said.

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.

– Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust spokesman

Phillip Westwater, 44, was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act in 1989 following a pub fight where he left a man paralysed for life after slashing him across the throat with a shard of glass.

He later strangled a fellow patient at Ashworth Hospital, Liverpool, with his dressing gown cord after he became convinced that his victim was a black dog.

He escaped after asking to go to the toilet. Credit: ITV News

The 'Black Dog Strangler' married a nurse while he was a patient at high-security Rampton Hospital in 2008.Westwater escaped from a secure hospital in Gosforth, Newcastle, at 10am this morning after asking to go to the toilet. He left his clothing in the toilet.

He has been returned to St Nicholas Hospital. Credit: ITV News

He was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act following a pub fight in 1989, where he left a man paralysed for life after slashing him across the throat with a shard of glass. The following year, he strangled fellow patient Derek Williams at Ashworth Hospital, Liverpool, with his dressing gown cord after he became convinced his victim had turned into a black dog. Northumbria Police urged the public not to approach Westwater.