These four ‘convicts’ who went on the run in Oxford, had little chance of making a successful escape.

They had on their tail a team of super sleuths, who proved too good for them and soon rounded them up.

The ‘criminals’ – three officers from Oxford Prison and a policewoman – staged their jailbreak to raise money for charity.

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They planned to call at 10 Morrells pubs in the city and leave at each one a clue to the next stop for 16 teams of ‘detectives’ pursuing them.

But the ‘convicts’ – Chris Ponting, Dick Ellis, Rick Hills and WPc Joanne Beech - were arrested with two pubs still to go.

The event was organised in 1987 to raise money for People for Children, a charity set up by inmates and staff at the prison.

They later made a donation of £1,500 to buy equipment for the children’s ward at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The teams of detectives, many of them in fancy dress, were recruited from local pubs, clubs and colleagues. The winning team, which made the arrests, was from the Albion pub in Hollybush Row, Oxford.

Oxford Prison, which was in New Road on what is now the site of Malmaison, closed in the mid-1990s.

The prison housed inmates for 800 years before it closed in 1996.

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Made a jail because of its diminishing military value as a Norman medieval castle, conditions were harsh and prisoners were often hanged.

The majority of inmates were poorer members of society, driven into crimes such as theft and fraud through desperation.

In 2006, Oxford Castle was officially reopened by the Queen, with Malmaison hotel occupying the former prison site.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.