Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Fugitive: I Was Going Straight.Honestly!

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Fugitive: I Was Going Straight.Honestly!

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Doughty Crime Reporter

PRISON cell letters from escaped convict Steven Donnalley reveal how he planned to go straight after his release from jail. Police are hunting the armed robber who is thought to be hiding out in Blyth after fleeing from the low-security prison where he was serving a life sentence.

And as the search goes on the Chronicle has been given exclusive access to the 43-year-old's thoughts through the letters he sent from behind bars.

The handwritten notes, posted to a loved one on Tyneside, reveal how: the gunman thought he would be released after a parole hearing in September.

He already had a job and a flat lined up for when he got out, and the robber, who is a father, had vowed never to return to prison and wanted to make up for his mistakes after he was released.

In one he writes: "I know not many people like me for what I have done. I have made mistakes but I've changed. I think everyone deserves a chance in life to prove they have changed for the better and after eight years in prison I can honestly say I have learned my lesson, paid for my mistakes, and will never come back to prison after this.

"I've lost everything and have to build a life for myself and start again."

Donnalley, who is also known as Steven Antwiss, was jailed for life following an armed robbery almost 10 years ago.

The 43-year-old, from Wallsend, North Tyneside, and an accomplice, left two women traumatised when they stormed Blyth's Waterloo Road Social Club brandishing a weapon, in 2005.

Christine Cotterill and Margaret Scott were clearing up after their shifts behind the bar when they heard a noise in the back of the building, at just before midnight.

When they went to investigate, they were confronted by Donnalley and his accomplice Graham Wills, who were trying to remove a safe embedded in the wall.

The armed pair marched the terrified women back into the other room, and terrorised them as they searched for cash.

Former roofer Donnalley, of Bodmin Close, Wallsend and Wills, then 24, of West Court, Blyth, both admitted robbery and firearms offences. …

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