Duchess ‘under guard’ as ex-aide escapes prison

Nov 24, 2009
Rachel Helyer-Donaldson

Jane Andrews, who was Sarah Ferguson’s close personal assistant for nine years, was jailed for murder in 2001

The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is reported to be under armed guard after her former aide, who was jailed for murder, escaped from prison. Jane Andrews, 40, who was Sarah Ferguson's most trusted personal assistant for nine years, absconded from an open prison in Maidstone, Kent, on Sunday.

Andrews was jailed in 2001 for life after she murdered her boyfriend Tommy Cressman. She killed Cressman, a 39-year-old millionaire businessman, by bludgeoning him with a cricket bat and stabbing him through the chest with a kitchen knife at their west London home.

Andrews is said to have never forgiven Sarah Ferguson for making her redundant in 1997 when the Duchess of York was forced to cut back on her household staff. Armed police were yesterday protecting Sarah Ferguson, who is in London this week for business and charity meetings.

A friend of the Duchess told the Daily Mirror that Ferguson had been "shocked" when Royal Protection Officers warned that Andrews was at large, adding: "She won't change her plans but obviously security will be stepped up."

Andrews, who will be eligible for parole in 2012, had been transferred to East Sutton prison last week to prepare for her eventual release. But within hours of arriving on Wednesday she was taken to hospital after apparently trying to overdose on paracetamol tablets.

Andrews was discharged from hospital and returned to East Sutton prison. But on Sunday evening she was found to have absconded after failing to answer the 8pm roll call. She could have been on the run for up to seven hours by then. A prison service spokesman said that Kent police were assisting with the search for Andrews.

At the Old Bailey trial, the court heard how Andrews attacked Cressman after he made it clear that he would not marry her. The jury rejected her claims that she had armed herself because she was frightened after being abused by Cressman.

Andrews went on the run after the attack. Her former boss, the Duchess of York, left two voicemail messages on her mobile phone urging her to give herself up. Andrews sent messages back to Sarah Ferguson, saying that she did not know why everyone was trying to contact her and insisting that "everything was fine" when she had last seen Cressman. Four days later Andrews gave herself up, telling a friend she was in Cornwall.

Last night, Andrews' friend Lucinda Sharp said she was concerned about her safety and was "absolutely astonished, staggered and stunned" that she would escape so close to her potential release date.

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