Police hunt as teenage arsonist escapes hospital before fire attacks take place

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Northamptonshire police said Brady absconded from the Billing Road facility grounds at about 3.30pm yesterday and there have been no confirmed sightings of Brady in the last 24 hours (Image: Northants Police)
Northamptonshire police said Brady absconded from the Billing Road facility grounds at about 3.30pm yesterday and there have been no confirmed sightings of Brady in the last 24 hours (Image: Northants Police)

An urgent hunt has been launched following a number of arson attacks after a mentally-ill teenager escaped from a secure psychiatric hospital.

Johnny Brady, 19, escaped from St Andrew's facility yesterday (December 31) where he was serving a hospital order following convictions relating to serious arson offences, having burned down a number of schools and churches in Derby.

Northamptonshire police said Brady absconded from the Billing Road facility grounds at about 3.30pm yesterday and there have been no confirmed sightings of Brady in the last 24 hours.

Police have since confirmed they are investigating three separate incidents of arson to rubbish bags which occurred overnight.

All incidents took place within a couple of miles of the hospital grounds and police say they may be linked to Brady.

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The escapee was last seen wearing black Adidas tracksuit bottoms, a black hoodie, and black coloured trainers. He is considered dangerous, reports Derbyshire Live.

He is described as white, about five feet and nine inches and of a slim build. Members of the public are urged not to approach Brady, but instead call 999 as a matter of urgency.

Detective Superintendent Richard Tompkins said: “We have officers who are actively looking for Johnny however, he has now been missing for almost 24 hours, and with no confirmed sightings, we are becoming increasingly concerned.

Police hunt as teenage arsonist escapes hospital before fire attacks take placeJohnny Brady, 19, escaped from St Andrew's facility yesterday (December 31) (West Midlands Police)

"Johnny is serving a hospital order for convictions relating to arson and serious assault, which is why it is very important that the public do not approach him under any circumstances but should call 999 immediately.

“We are investigating three separate incidents of arson to bags of rubbish, which occurred overnight, in areas within a couple of miles of the hospital grounds which may be linked to Johnny.

"Arson has potentially fatal consequences and we therefore ask the public to be extra vigilant within their local communities. If you see anyone acting suspiciously near property or deliberately starting fires to items such as bins, please call us immediately on 999.”

Anyone who has seen Brady or knows of his whereabouts is asked to call Northamptonshire Police on 999, quoting incident number 275 of 31/12/22.

Northamptonshire police has confirmed that a second man, 43-year-old sex offender Nicholas Courtney, who absconded from the St Andrew’s facility yesterday (Saturday, December 31), was located by police officers overnight and has been returned to the secure accommodation.

Brady had been locked up indefinitely in the secure mental health unit due to the high risk he poses to property and the public. He was spared prison, despite shouting several times during the sentencing hearing that he wished to be jailed.

Two psychiatric reports concluded he had autism and required further treatment.

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Deeply troubled Brady took pleasure in causing damage to a number of buildings in a rampage of destruction between October and December 2020. It began with a burglary at Murray Park School in Mickleover on October 1, 2020, and then his crimes escalated.

He then burned down St Mary's Catholic School, in Darley Abbey, on October 3, and Ravensdale Infant and Nursery School, in Mickleover, on October 4. Brady, of no fixed abode when he was sentenced on September 2, then set fire to the Orangery Café, in Markeaton Park, on October 6, and St Matthew's Church, in Darley Abbey, on October 15.

There was then another arson attack at St Paul's Church, in Quarndon, between October 14 and 16, before All Saint's Church in Mackworth was gutted by a devastating blaze on December 3, committed while Brady was on police bail.

Brady was aged just 17 when he committed his crimes.

While remanded in custody, Brady admitted his offending to a prison chaplain, who said he was "unapologetic" and "got a kick" from his crimes.

Daniela Loffreda

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