This episode from the early 80`s showed a forward thinking Police Chief bringing in an expert tracker to locate a man escaping from surrounded areas, and this tracker leading Police to his hideout, which resulted in death. This man, Barry Peter Prudom, became dubbed by the media "The Phantom in The Forest" but there was nothing glamorous about this vicious killer. He murdered two Police Officers, attempted to murder another and cold bloodedly shot a tied up couple in the head. The lady survived but her husband died. This was no hero.
Prudom was born Edwards in Leeds in 1944 but his mother remarried some years later to Alex Prudom and he changed his name. He ended up in an approved school during his teenage years but after leaving Meanwood Secondary School, he got an apprenticeship as an Electrician. In 1965, he married Gillian Wilson and had two children. In 1969, Prudom joined B Squadron 23 Special Air Service (V) based in Leeds but was rejected for being unstable and a lack of discipline. He started a job as a grocer and even worked in Saudi Arabia to bring in more money. Whilst in the Middle East, his wife left him for another man and cleaned out the bank account. He hooked up with a woman named Carol Francis, and travelled around, even working in Canada and the US.
Back in the UK, 1982, Prudom was arrested and charged with a violent assault but failed to appear in court and so a warrant was issued for his arrest. Prudom had with him a gun that he smuggled in from the US. On 17th June 1982, PC David Haigh went to serve a summons on a poacher near Harrogate, but was not heard from. A colleague found his car near Norwood Edge, and PC Haigh dead from a shot to the head. An enquiry cleared the poacher and a man whose name was written on PC Haigh`s clipboard. Prudom was in a green Citroen, which was seen by the murder site, and the diligent work of an officer put a name to the suspect; Prudom. The car was found burned out by Ledsham in West Yorkshire. Prudom made his way to Torksey in Lincolnshire, where he broke into the home of pensioner Freda Jackson. He tied her up, stole money then left her. He moved on to nearby Girton, where again he broke into a house. He tied up the occupants then ruthlessly shot the couple in the head. George Luckett died, but miraculously, Sylvia Luckett survived and somehow broke free of her bonds and reached a neighbours` house.
Now Prudom was at Bickley where Police dog handler Ken Oliver challenged him. He responded by shooting PC Oliver in the face, and as he staggered for cover, shot several times more. His dog attacked Prudom and was shot twice but it survived. Police converged on Dalby Forest in force and searched for the gunman. He escaped. At Old Malton, Police Sergeant David Winter and PC Mick Wood challenged Prudom who shot at them. Prudom pursued the officers , shooting Sergeant Winter three times. He died. Journalists covering the story were actually at this murder scene where Prudom attempted to shoot them, causing them to scatter. Amongst possessions found, was a survivalist book written by former SAS man Eddie McGee. Indeed, it transpired that Prudom had attended some of McGee`s survivalist classes.
McGee was brought in and started tracing the fugitive. The town of Malton was sealed off by Police who believed Prudom was still there. He broke into another pensioners home, taking them and their son hostage. He shared a meal with them , tied them up and left. He had a shelter rigged up, 300 yards from the Police station where the centre of operations was based. McGee noticed dew drops disturbed on grass and followed a trail to a shelter. The Police moved in, and threw some stun grenades by the shelter. A shot rang out, so the order to fire was given. Prudom was found with a bullet wound to the side of the head. He had taken his own life. Prudom lies buried in an unmarked grave in Harehills Cemetery in Leeds. In 2011, Ken Oliver, the officer seriously wounded by Prudom, passed away.