A convicted killer, who went on the run for 17 days, was caught by chance when police were called to a McDonald’s drive-thru, a court has heard.

Thomas Parkinson, who was eligible for parole having served his minimum term, absconded from HMP Kirkham on 24 April.

He was found on 12 May after the fast food outlet on Southport’s Ocean Plaza reported concerns that the driver of a car he was in had been drinking.

The 32-year-old, from Preston, admitted absconding at Liverpool Crown Court.

He was sentenced to four months in prison, to run in addition to his existing sentence.

Parkinson was jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 12 years in 2007 for stabbing Shaun Higgins at a house party in Preston.

Release ‘some way off’

The court heard Parkinson, who was transferred to HMP Kirkham in September last year, absconded after losing patience while waiting for home release.

Nardeen Nemat, prosecuting, said 17 days after he left the jail, police were called to the Southport drive-thru over concerns about the man driving the car.

Officers found a black Ford Fiesta parked in a bay and as they approached it, Parkinson jumped out of a rear passenger seat and ran off, she said.

However, police gave chase and was caught him hiding behind a nearby wall.

Ms Nemat told the court Parkinson had left the jail via a fire door and claimed he “walked out due to threats to him while in prison”, though he would not say who had made them.

Michael Bagley, defending, said on return to prison, he had been making good progress.

Sentencing him, Judge Stuart Driver QC told Parkinson that as a result of his escape, his release from his life sentence was “some way off in the future”.