British killer found in Australia after 15 years on the run

SYDNEY (AFP) - A British man who killed his aunt by stabbing her 70 times and who has been on the run for 15 years after escaping from prison in England has been arrested in an Australian town, reports said on Monday.

Simon Hennessey spent 20 years in jail for brutally killing his elderly aunt but escaped when he walked out of a low security jail in December 1998.

At the time, he was serving a life sentence for killing the woman in her home in Plymouth, southern England, when he was 14.

Queensland state police told the Sunshine Coast Daily that the 49-year-old was picked up by chance in the town of Tewantin and at first had given them a false name.

They were stunned to discover their mystery prisoner was Hennessey.

"We knew there was more to him and it appears he has used several identities," Detective Senior Sergeant Daren Edwards told the newspaper.

"We believe he has moved between Thailand, New Zealand and Australia. It looks like he has been coming and going from Australia since about 2003."

Queensland police have now charged the 49-year-old with a string of 75 fraud charges including two counts of falsely representing himself as someone else, 38 counts of obtaining the property of another, and seven counts of forging documents.

They said he had been arrested several weeks ago and appeared before Maroochydore magistrates on June 17. He remains in custody ahead of another hearing next month.

"He's in the process now - under the system now - on the charges we've got," Mr Edwards told the ABC.

"So there's our normal process through the courts here in relation to those charges (which) will take place before anything else.

"That takes precedence at the moment. He is an illegal immigrant. Once our matters are finished, there is obviously an avenue if the UK should see fit to try and take him back to the United Kingdom."

Hennessy had allegedly been living from the proceeds of sophisticated fraud scams under false identities for years, with three of the charges against him relating to alleged frauds involving more than A$30,000 (S$35,232).