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Prison Escaper Alfred Hinds Dead at 73

January 7, 1991 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ Alfred Hinds, a burglar and safe-breaker from London’s East End who gained folk hero status as a prison escaper, has died. He was 73.

A spokeswoman at Jersey General Hospital said Monday that he died in Jersey on Friday. She said the Hinds family had asked the hospital not to give out details of his death, survivors or funeral arrangements.

Hinds taught himself law and argued his cases in 17 court appearances. While a fugitive, he sent letters to newspapers claiming he had not participated in a robbery at Maples furniture store in London. He was sentenced in 1953 to 12 years for the crime.

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In 1955, he escaped from Nottingham prison by copying a key to the jail workshop after memorizing its shape. He climbed the jail wall and got away in a truck provided by a friend but was captured in Ireland eight months later.

Hinds escaped in 1957 from two prison guards while at the Law Courts in London, where he had an appearance to press an action against the prison commissioners for illegal arrest.

Hinds asked to go to the bathroom and when his handcuffs were taken off, he and a friend pushed the guards into the toilet and padlocked the door, which the friend had prepared in advance by driving a staple and hook into the woodwork. He was arrested as he tried to fly to Ireland.

Hinds broke out of Chelmsford prison in 1958 by making a key to a bathhouse. He escaped through a skylight, over the wall and into a waiting car.

In 1964, he successfully sued a police superintendent for libel for saying in a newspaper article that Hinds was guilty of the Maples robbery. Hinds was awarded $3,100 in damages and legal costs when the judge said the officer failed to establish the claim was true.

Hinds was finally freed in 1964. He later lectured for the National Council of Civil Liberties, arguing that the nation’s police force should be more intelligent.

In retirement in Jersey, he built up a real estate business.