Moment convicted rapist missing from HMP Leyhill spotted on CCTV in Bristol shopping centre

Fresh CCTV of a convicted rapist who is on the run from police has been released as the search for him enters its eighth day.

Sean Phipps failed to return to open prison HMP Leyhill in South Gloucestershire on 1 June after being let out on day release in Bristol.

The 51-year-old was convicted of kidnap in 2002 as well as rape in both 1989 and 1993.

Avon and Somerset Police say his record shows he is capable of 'dangerous' offending and so are warning people to be vigilant and report sightings of him.

Fresh CCTV issued today (8 June) shows Phipps walking through The Galleries Shopping Centre in Bristol city centre, close to Castle Park.

  • Moment 'dangerous' offender who should be in prison seen on CCTV in Bristol

Detective Inspector Keith Smith said: "Sean Phipps will know he is a wanted man and is no doubt doing all he can to avoid being detected.

"We'd like to reassure the public we are doing everything we can to trace his movements and arrest him."

Phipps was last seen in Bristol but is also known to have links to the Leicester, Leeds and Nottingham areas. He also goes by the surnames Cawthray, Goldthorpe and Perry.

Phipps is approximately 6ft2ins and was last seen wearing black coat over a blue top, blue jeans and Timerberland footwear.

DI Smith added: "We are asking people to keep lookout for him to help us track him down. Although he has access to some money, we believe it’s more likely he is trying to avoid being spotted by staying in quiet areas, whether it be hiking along back roads or potentially sheltering away from public eye, such as woodland or in an outbuilding. 

“He will steal items such as clothing and food to survive, and will walk long distances or steal bicycles to move around on. We also know he has a tendency to use false sob stories to earn sympathy and help from unsuspecting members of the public." 

A police spokesperson said: "Phipps' track record shows he is capable of carrying out dangerous crimes and therefore we urge the public to help us in any way they can so we can return him to prison as soon as possible. 

"Any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, could make all the difference." 

If you see Phipps the police say not to approach him but to call 999 and give the reference number 52222130002.