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UNMASKED Road rage yob is murderer who once escaped from jail; KILLER'S PAST COMES BACK TO HAUNT HIM Thug launched verbal tirade at off-duty officer.

Byline: KEITH MCLEOD and JENNY FOULDS reporters@dailyrecord.co.uk

A VILLAGE handyman's past as a murderer and prison escapee emerged after he was arrested over a road rage incident.

Andrew Rodger, 68, of Garelochead, Argyll, launched a foul-mouthed tirade at a cyclist, telling him he would mow him down in his van if they were alone.

But the focus of his threats was an off-duty policeman and Rodger ended up at Dumbarton Sheriff Court.

Now the local odd job man can be unmasked as a killer who staged one of the most audacious prison breakouts in history.

Rodger made his bid for freedom while serving life for murder after he bludgeoned a swimming pool attendant to death with a crowbar when he was caught stealing from a vending machine in 1987.

He and two other inmates escaped from a high security prison on the Isle of Wight in 1995.

The Alcatraz-style breakout at Parkhurst saw the trio construct their own ladder, handcraft a gun and make a master key that could unlock every door in the prison.

The last months They spent nights on the run, managing to evade a massive police hunt involving sniffer dogs and helicopters.

have worse when After his release in 2006, Rodger moved to Garelochhead, where he's built a close group of pals.

waiting the charge But his past came to light when he appeared at court last week to admit trying to attack the cyclist with a torch near Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde.

ANDREW It emerged the victim was an offduty Ministry of Defence police officer who captured the incident on camera.

Fiscal depute Gemma McKechnie told the court the cop was cycling on the A814 near Faslane when he became aware of Rodger's white Peugeot van.

She said Rodger overtook another been than vehicle on the road, causing the cyclist to be fearful for his safety. The off-duty officer made a hand gesture at Rodger, which made him see red.

I was on murder He confronted him further up the road when the cyclist stopped and Rodger pulled in.

RODGER McKechnie said: "He approached the witness and began shouting, 'Who the f*** do you think you are? I'm allowed to overtake you'.

"He continued shouting, 'I heard a cyclist get knocked down by a car and I can see why. You are a c***. If there was no one about I would f****** run you over and I would laugh. The only reason I don't is I don't want the f****** jail.' The w i t n e s s informed the accused he was recording the incident on his cycle camera and the accused returned to his van.

"He returned holding a black torch and thereafter lunged in an attempt to strike the witness."

Rodger eventually made off and the cyclist and another witness reported the incident to police.

He was arrested later that day and pled guilty to acting aggressively towards the man, shouting, swearing and threatening him with violence. He also admitted assaulting the victim by trying to strike him with a torch on August 14 last year.

Rodger's lawyer told the court he had otherwise behaved "impeccably" since his release from prison. He said: "He has lived in two communities. He has built a close group of associates. They have been assessed as desisting him from any further offending."

Sheriff Simon Pender said he was persuaded against sending the killer back to jail and imposed a community payback order with two years of supervision and 250 hours of unpaid work. Rodger was also handed a restriction of liberty order, meaning he must stay in his home between 7pm and 7am for the next five months.

He escaped from Parkhurst in January 1995 after being jailed for life for murdering 54-year-old John Garrett in London. He and his accomplices - both serving life sentences - were captured three miles from the jail five days after escaping.

When we spoke to Rodger, he said he regretted the incident with the cyclist, adding: "I lost my temper at a rude gesture. It could have had very serious consequences for me. I could have gone back to jail.

"I'm thankful that did not happen. "I've spent 13 years rebuilding my life and I almost threw it away.

"The last seven months have been worse than when I was waiting on the murder charge."

On the Parkhurst break-out, Rodger, originally from Ayrshire, said: "I found out the judge had recommended a 12 year tariff but the home secretary increased this to 17. It made me flip.

"I was working in the welding shop.

The worst thing they ever did was put me, a welder, in there. I made the key and the ladders. I thought, 'Well f*** it, I'd rather die trying to escape.'"

The last 7 months have been worse than when I was waiting on the murder charge ANDREW RODGER

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BREAKOUT Cops hunt Rodger after he escaped Parkhurst
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 16, 2019
Words:828
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