Cocaine smuggler last seen in north west London still on the run

Absconded: Artur Topalli

Absconded: Artur Topalli - Credit: Archant

A drug smuggler who absconded from an open prison having served barely a quarter of his sentence is still on the run a year after he was last seen in north west London.

Artur Topalli failed to return to Hollesley Bay prison in Suffolk on November 7 last year after being granted temporary release for three days.

The 31-year-old was last spotted in north west London at 11am that day.

He had been serving a jail term of six years and eight months for attempting to illegally import eight kilos of cocaine, with a street value of £771,840, through the Channel Tunnel.

MP Dr Therese Coffey wrote to the prisons’ minister at the Ministry of Justice at the time to find out why he was allowed on temporary release just 21 months into his sentence.

She said: “We know that open prisons are used to prepare people for eventual release and rehabilitate them, but my constituents will want to know why someone serving quite a long sentence was released after serving only a quarter of it.”

Police continue to appeal for the public’s help to trace Topalli.

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A spokesman said: “Police do not believe that he poses a wider risk to members of the public and are asking that anyone who may have seen him, or who has any information about his whereabouts, to contact police on 101. “Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”