Mason, aged 46, of Elliott Drive, Wellesbourne, was jailed for six months—consecutive to sentences totalling 12 years and four months he is currently serving.

Prosecutor Tim Harrington said that in April 2009 Mason had been jailed for nine years and four months at Worcester Crown Court for his part in the violent robbery of a 68-year-old pensioner in his own home.

The victim had been tied up and subjected to a savage beating with a crowbar by a gang who believed he had £40,000 stashed away at his cottage in the Worcestershire village of Hadley.

At a later hearing, also at Worcester Crown Court, Mason was given a consecutive three-year sentence for two further robberies, said Mr Harrington.

“By August last year he found himself in Thorn Cross prison near Warrington, which is an open prison where prisoners are trusted to come and go at certain times of day.”

But when a roll-call was taken after lunch on 24th April it became apparent that Mason, who was due for release at the end of January next year, had absconded.

He was at large for six days until he was traced to the home of a friend in Shipston-on-Stour where he was arrested.

When he was interviewed later that day Mason explained the reason he had gone on the run was that, because of where the prison was, he had had few visits from his family, and a request to be transferred to HMP Hewell, near Redditch, had been turned down.

So he climbed over the fence and got a train to Leamington before going to his friend’s address.

An unrepentant Mason added: “I know I’ll get a few more months, but if it’s at Hewell it’ll be worth it. It’s all about seeing my family.”

Richard Hull, defending, conceded: “There is very little I can add to what was said by the defendant.

“The motive had been building for some time, but the decision made by him to go was spontaneous.”

And he pointed out that Mason had not resisted when he was arrested and was fully-co-operative with the police.

Jailing Mason, Recorder Lance Ashworth QC told him: “It is absolutely imperative for that system to work that prisoners do not abscond from such prisons.

“But this is a case where no violence was involved and no damage caused. You were only free for six days, and there is no suggestion you committed any other offences while you were out.

“You explained to the police why you had done it; but while those reasons are understandable, they are not good reasons. You can’t choose to which prison you are sent.”