Hampstead Heath gunman escapes prison
Police advise public not to approach Dominic Van Allen
28 October, 2020 — By Tom Foot
Dominic Van Allen
A HOMELESS man jailed for five years for stashing a makeshift gun on Hampstead Heath has escaped prison.
Dominic Van Allen absconded from Ford Prison in west Sussex on October 15, police said today (Wednesday).
The 47-year-old was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court last year following the discovery of an underground hide on the Heath.
The area was sealed off by police for days over fears that the hide, just north of the East Heath car park, may have been connected to terrorism.
This week police said they were looking for him in north London but did not say whether they believed he had returned specifically to the Heath. He had lived in the park for seven years, his trial heard in 2019.
Mr Allen denied all knowledge of the pipe-gun found there, despite it having his DNA on it.
A forensic scientist had told the court this his DNA could have been transferred onto the gun without his knowledge.
He had told the court he “just wanted to be left alone” and that he had used chemicals to dissolve tree roots and create space to hide his personal possessions.
Police tracked him down after finding a jiffy bag with his name on it. He volunteered to meet with the officer, in McDonalds in Swiss Cottage, before being arrested.
The severity of the charge – five years for owning a makeshift gun – was criticised by his defence team.
His lawyers had said he not history of violent or criminal behaviour since the age of 19 and wanted to just lead a peaceful, rural life.
Despite this, police are advising the public not to approach him, but to call 999, quoting Sussex serial 983 of 15/10.
You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.