A convicted burglar walked out of an open prison because he was struggling, magistrates heard.

Appearing before Swindon Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning, Laurence Rooney, 37, of no fixed address, entered no plea to a single charge of escape from lawful custody.

Prosecutor Kate Prince said Rooney, who was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment in 2016, had walked out of Hollesley Bay prison, Suffolk, on October 4 as he had been “struggling”.

He was said to have borrowed a phone from another prisoner and called a friend who collected him two hours later.

It wasn’t until October 16 that he was arrested by police in south Wiltshire.

Magistrates remanded him in custody to appear before Swindon Crown Court on November 13 for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Escape from lawful custody is a common law charge that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The allegation is indictable only, meaning pleas can only be taken at the crown court.