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Violent fugitive who was one of UK's most wanted men caught after 13 years on run

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·4 min read
Ambrose Nicholas O'Neill was arrested after 13 years on the run.
Ambrose Nicholas O'Neill was arrested after 13 years on the run. (Nottinghamshire Police)

A violent fugitive, who was one of Britain’s most wanted men, has been caught after 13 years on the run.

Ambrose Nicholas O'Neill, 42, was nicknamed “The Running Man” because he had been evading law enforcement as a wanted man since 2008.

Police had been hunting O’Neill after he attacked a 67-year-old antiques dealer and threatened to kill him in a terrifying robbery in Seagrave, Leicestershire on 10 February 2007.

O'Neill knocked on the victim's front door posing as a pizza delivery man before pushing him over and punching him in the face. He then ordered the victim to open his safe before leaving empty-handed.

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O’Neill was arrested and attended the first day of his trial at Leicester Crown Court in July 2008.

But he failed to turn up for the rest of the case and in December, he was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison.

Leicestershire Police then launched a man-hunt to find him while colleagues from Nottinghamshire Police also carried out extensive enquiries.

After detectives had exhausted all lines of enquiry the trail went cold.

But a breakthrough finally came following an anonymous tip-off through Crimestoppers that O’Neill may be living with a woman in the Wyberton area, near Boston, Lincolnshire.

Watch: Police appeal for public’s help to find attackers after 15-year-old killed

The information did not include an exact address so the officers worked on gathering more intelligence, using a number of tactics to pinpoint his home.

O’Neill was finally arrested and placed in custody on Friday by award-winning TV officer PC James Gill of Nottinghamshire Police.

The officer was commended in 2019 for his dedication to catching wanted criminals - even in his spare time. He has featured in the TV police documentary Bodycam Squad.

Gill had also "made it his mission" to find O'Neill, putting in hours of work to follow up every thread of intelligence.

After his arrest, the fugitive was taken straight to prison to start his eight-year prison sentence.

He is also set to appear before Leicester Crown Court where the sentence could be extended.

Gill, who is based in Arnold and works on the “wanted squad”, which tracks down outstanding offenders, said he was extremely proud to have helped catch O'Neill.

O’Neill was finally arrested and placed in custody on Friday by award-winning TV officer PC James Gill of Nottinghamshire Police.
O’Neill was finally arrested and placed in custody on Friday by award-winning TV officer PC James Gill. (Nottinghamshire Police)

The police officer said: "He is known as “The Running Man”. We knew he had changed his appearance and lived in an area where people do not know him and he had an assumed identity.

"He was laughing at the police so we were determined to do everything to find him.

"It has taken an incredible amount of work to find him. It's making these people know their time on the run is over.

"It is because I have been surrounded by good, experienced and motivated officers we have achieved what we have. It is not a solo achievement."

Officers also arrested a 41-year-old woman on suspicion of assisting an offender. She remains in police custody.

Gill added: "We are delighted with this arrest and it's taken a lot of hard work to finally reach this point.

"O'Neill had been wanted for a long time and was particularly difficult to find once we received this fresh piece of intelligence we didn't hesitate to act on it.

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"I'm delighted that it paid off and that we've now been able to get justice for the victims of this horrific crime."

Chief Superintendent Rob Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, added: "I'd like to commend the excellent work and dogged determination of our officers who went above and beyond in hunting for O'Neill and getting him arrested.

"It's a shining example of the commitment shown by our officers to ensure criminals are brought to account and justice is delivered to victims of crime.

"Once our officers sank their teeth into this operation they wouldn't let go. Without their tenacity, this fantastic result wouldn't have been possible.

"They left no stone unturned and as a result, O'Neill now, at last, must face the consequences of his actions.

"I'd also like to thank our colleagues at Leicestershire and Lincolnshire for their support during this investigation."

Watch: Police release mugging CCTV after pensioner’s attacker is jailed