LOOK BACK IN TIME: 3rd June 1922

In the Isle of Wight Observer of 3rd June, 1922 there is a long account of the capture of a convict who escaped from Parkhurst. Elsewhere it in the article it tells how he had stolen things from various properties, and in one was disturbed by a parrot starting to talk. He was caught in a makeshift hideaway where he had got together a mattress, books, newspapers, 14lbs of margarine, several pots of jam and marmalade, bread eggs, a towel and an overcoat. He seems to have become quite a celebrity. As he was transported back to prison by car “several women threw flowers, including roses.” Here are some extracts from the story.

Convict Captured.

FULL STORY OF HIS SURRENDER.

Despite the general opinion that Arthur Conmy, the escaped convict from Parkhurt Prison, had reached the mainland, the Ryde police under Inspector Hawkins had the gratification of being rewarded for their watchfulness and perseverance by re-capturing, him in the attic of a large empty house “Northfield,” George-street, on Sunday afternoon about 5.30pm. amid such a scene of excitement as had never been witnessed in Ryde. The convict who was serving a sentence of ten years penal servitude escaped under dramatic circumstances during Tuesday night, May 15th, and for twelve days had been searched for day and night in Whitefield Woods and the vicinity.

[…]

The police were so delighted at his attitude in knowing when he was beaten that they shook hands with him heartily before slipping on the handcuffs.

When questioned as to how long it took him to make preparations for his escape from Parkhurst he said he laid his plans 12 months ago.

“The inside cell wall cannot be worked on during the winter because the pipes are heated, so last summer I faked the brickwork using an old fork for my pick. This took some months. all the dirt I put under the floor, and I lay low all through the winter. I did not start work on it again until the winter had gone by. Then it was alright”

“Where did you make for when you got out?” I asked.

“I got out to the back of the old Catholic chapel, and slipped through,” he said laughingly. “When my pursuers had gone by I made my way round in a circle working from one crib to another round Ryde.”

[…]

Conmy settled down to the old life thoroughly exhausted after his spell of freedom. The first night he slept the clock round. He is more cheerful, and can smile a little when he recalls how near to capture he was on many occasions.