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A NATIONWIDE manhunt has been launched after a former cage fighter who violently attacked a dad-of-two in Burnley fled from prison.

Police have warned the public not to approach Ricardo Dunn, 32, after he absconded from an open prison in Buckinghamshire in the early hours on Sunday.

He was serving an indeterminate sentence following a conviction for GBH with intent on Peter Hoyle in July 2009.

The violent criminal knocked out his victim with a single punch before stamping and punching him as he lay helpless and unconscious in Leyland Road.

Mr Hoyle suffered a brain injury, fractured skull, had his teeth kicked out and he ended up spending five months in hospital.

Dunn was later jailed and was told he must serve at least four years, 16 weeks and five days of the indefinite sentence before the parole board would consider if he was safe for release.

But in the early hours on Sunday, he fled HMS Spring Hill, a Category D prison in Buckinghamshire with convicted murderer Darren Douglas, 46, from Birmingham.

Yesterday Mr Hoyle's former wife said she was ‘disgusted’ that Dunn had been allowed to serve some of his sentence in an open prison.

Kelly Newman, who has two children, Caine and Pharrell, with Mr Hoyle, said his life ‘has been ruined’ after the attack.

She said: “I think it is disgusting. I never knew he was in an open prison. Life has been so hard for Peter and my boys since the attack.

“The heartache and pain we all have had to go through has been very stressful and for my boys it has been hard having to learn a new dad, he's just not the same person anymore and this has brought it all back.

“I found out off my cousin who saw it on Facebook, and now I've had to explain to my boys before someone else tells them.”

Dunn, living in Brierfield at the time of the attack, was an amateur cage fighter.

Mr Hoyle, a former soldier and body builder, used to work with disabled people at Alternate Futures in Blackburn and previously worked at Calderdale Hospital, Whalley.

He is now back at home living with his new girlfriend.

Kelly said he was ‘a fantastic dad’. She added: "He will never be the same and will never fully recover. In my eyes his life has been ruined.”

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said it was ‘absolutely disgraceful’ that Dunn had been allowed in an open prison.

He said: “People who have been convicted for such violent offences shouldn’t be in an open prison, it’s as simple as that.

“I have nothing against open prisons but they aren’t suitable for this type of offender. It is appalling, absolutely disgraceful.

“They have allowed him to be in an open prison but nobody has given a second thought for the victim of this attack.”

Douglas was serving a life sentence for stabbing a man to death outside a pub in Birmingham in 1998.

Chief inspector Olly Wright, of Thames Valley Police, said: "We are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen these men in the area and can provide us with information about their movements.

"These men were both convicted for violent offences and I would advise anyone who sees them, to not approach them and call police immediately.

"Both men have links with other areas so may have travelled out of the Thames Valley to those areas.

“I would like to remind people that it is a criminal offence to harbour these men and anyone caught doing so would be arrested."

Lancashire Police have been made aware of Dunn’s disappearance.

The issue of prisoners walking out of open prisons has been in the spotlight this year with a number of high profile criminals going on the run.

In May this year, prolific armed robber Michael 'Skullcracker' Wheatley, 55, went on the run from HMP Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

And on Sunday a fifth prisoner fled HMP Hatfield open prison, near Doncaster, in the space of five weeks.

Yesterday Justice Minister Chris Grayling said the number of absconds from open prisons was down 80 per cent over the last 10 years.

After being quizzed on the issue in the House of Commons, Mr Grayling said: ”I do not believe it is sensible for this country to scrap open prisons.

”I believe it’s sensible to have tougher risk assessment procedures and I think it is sensible not to transfer people to open conditions if they have previously absconded.

”Those are changes we have put in place in the last couple of weeks.”