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Two rapists on run after escaping south Gloucestershire prison by ‘forcing door’

By Sky News

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John-Paul Knowlson (L) and Stuart O’Neill are being sought by police

(SKY NEWS) – The public are being warned not to approach two convicted rapists after they escaped from prison by “forcing a door”.

John-Paul Knowlson and Stuart O’Neill absconded from HMP Leyhill in south Gloucestershire around 2am on Wednesday.

Knowlson, 30, is from Bristol and was convicted of rape in 2011 at Bristol Crown Court.

He is described as white, 5ft 5ins tall and of medium build with brown eyes.

Last seen wearing a red tracksuit top, Knowlson speaks with a West Country accent and has a tattoo of a cross on his right arm.

O’Neill, 29, is from the Lancashire area with strong links to Manchester and was convicted of rape, burglary and theft at Manchester Crown Court in 2009.

He is white, 6ft 1in tall and of medium build with blue eyes and a beard.

O’Neill speaks with a Manchester accent and has a tattoo of his surname on the base of his neck.

HMP Leyhill is the only minimum-security prison in the South West and holds 515 prisoners.

It is known as an “open prison” and is located roughly midway between Gloucester and Bristol.

Knowlson was transferred to HMP Leyhill in September last year, while O’Neill was transferred to the prison in October.

Both were serving indeterminate sentences for their offences.

Avon and Somerset Police said the men left the prison after “forcing a door”.

They are appealing for the public’s help to find the pair.

A spokesperson said: “If anyone sees O’Neill or Knowlson or knows of their whereabouts, we’d ask you not to approach them but to call us immediately on 999, providing the call handler with the reference 5218193274.”

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