Barry Prudom was the most wanted man in England for 17 days in the summer of 1982. Barry Prudom’s strange ability to blend into the woods of North Yorkshire and evade the trap, even when a huge number of police officers were searching for him in a relatively small area, gave him the name “the phantom of the forest”.
According to the British papers that dissected his life following his short, bloody stint as an escapee, Barry Prudom had a surprising youth that was punctuated with the bouts of criminal mischief. Barry Prudom was born in Leeds in 1944, and he was the result of an illicit and short-lived affair between a soldier and a dressmaker. Barry Prudom’s father abandoned Barry and his mother shortly after his birth and was never heard from again by Barry.
During his childhood, Barry had infrequent run-ins with the law, including the time when he was caught breaking into someone’s house. As he left school, he was able to secure the job as an electrician and showed some promise in his career.
However, Barry Prudom’s real passions were the military and guns, and it is reported that he attracted media relating to both of these subjects with an obsessive level of zeal. This passion culminated in Barry joining a voluntary reserve unit of the Special Air Service in 1969. It is not known for how much time Barry Prudom learned during this time because the service is notoriously secretive. However, some sources report that Barry was dismissed for lack of discipline, and others say that he was committed enough to make it to the final test.
The phantom of the forest, criminal turn
After his failure to make it to the Special Air Service reserves, Barry settled down and earned a respectable living working on oil fields in the Middle East to support his family. However, in 1977 this came to an abrupt end. He returned his home and found that his wife had left him for another man. There was an unexpected drowning of his mother, which left him in another mental breakdown.
After divorcing his wife, Barry, the phantom of the forest, became a violent swaggering bully who got involved in multiple crimes. Prudoms’s spree continued for some days, and he even injured a police dog handler, Ken Oliver. He killed a third officer called David Winter. Barry Prudom also shot Ken’s dog, which made a full recovery despite being hit twice. After a few days, Prudom was found dead. After some investigation, it was reported that Barry had killed himself as he had several pieces of shotgun buckshot in his body. The 17 days of fear that gripped the nation came to a bloody end.