A CONVICT scaled a prison fence and went on the run after his girlfriend told him she was leaving him for an inmate she had met in Styal women's jail.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Christopher Cowan, who was serving nine years for causing grievous bodily harm, also found it difficult to adapt to the regime at Thorn Cross open prison in Warrington and so fled.

He was found by police three days later at the Bolton home of a new partner.

Philip Hall, prosecuting, told Judge Graeme Smith how, on June 18, 36-year-old Cowan walked out of a fire door at the prison.

An alarm sounded but Cowan managed to clamber over a fence and escape.

He then rang his girlfriend, telling her he had been granted weekend leave and she collected him, driving him back to Bolton, unaware he had escaped.

Three days later he was traced to her address by police who knocked on the door.

"He tried to shut the door but officers forced their way in and were able to detain him," said Mr Hall.

Cowan pleaded guilty to escaping from custody and told police that he did so because he had been "feeling down".

Martin Pizzey, defending, told the court how Cowan had been jailed in May 2018 at Liverpool Crown Court for attacking his then girlfriend's former partner.

She was also sentenced to a term in Styal women's prison but was subsequently released and sent him a letter.

"She wrote to the defendant to say that she no longer wanted to be with him, that she had formed a relationship with another inmate at HMP Styal and that relationship was a forever relationship," said Martin Pizzey, defending.

"It was effectively a 'Dear John' letter."

Mr Pizzey added that the letter was the trigger to Cowan's struggles and while friends rallied round and he formed a new relationship with one of them two months before his escape, he found the regime at the open prison difficult.

"It became overwhelming — far too much for him to cope with," said Mr Pizzey.

"He just needed to be with someone to be comforted. He appreciates full well what he did was wrong."

The court heard that, while on the run, Cowan did not commit any further crime and Mr Pizzey stressed that the escape was a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Judge Smith sentenced Cowan, who appeared in court via a video link from Forest Bank prison, to an additional three months in jail to be served at the end of his current prison term.

"Hopefully, if you are faced with that temptation of an open door again in future, you will be able to resist it," the judge told Cowan.