A SOUTH Croydon woman has spoken of her close relationship with a life prisoner who is now having a sex change while in jail.
Pamela Stockwell, of Elm Close, has been writing to Alan Baker for the past 23 years while he serves a life sentence for the attempted murder of a rapist who he said bullied him in prison.
During that time Baker, from Thornton Heath, escaped and fathered a child with another penpal. Now back in jail, he has started a sex change and calls himself Sarah.
Mrs Stockwell is currently helping the 43-year-old write his second book – an autobiography to follow the guide on surviving life imprisonment which he published this year.
She supports his parole appeal, saying he is "a different person from the teenager who was convicted. Mrs Stockwell, 74, started writing to Baker when he was volunteering with probation more than 20 years ago and now feels like he is "a second son".
Baker has had an unusual stint in jail. In April 2007, he escaped from Leyhill open prison in South Gloucestershire and spent about 100 days on the run before police captured him. In that time, he met up with a woman who later gave birth to his only son. Mrs Stockwell said: "I felt very maternal towards him and didn't really enquire into his crimes for a long time. I have only found out about them quite recently. "My son was a young man at the time and it seemed so shocking to me that Alan had such a different life. Alan is like a son to me now. The first time I visited him was extraordinary. He was suspicious and quite nasty and then got upset and agitated. "I changed tack and showed him some photos I had of fox cubs on our lawn at home and he was suddenly a different person. "We soon started getting on so well, I made up my mind – if he asked me to do something, I would do it for him." During Baker's stay in one prison, Mrs Stockwell regularly bumped into Lord Longford, there to visit serial killer Myra Hindley. She also tracked down Baker's mother, who from then on visited her son regularly until she died last June.