High-profile UK prison escapes – BBC News

Police are sought for two men who are believed to have applied diamond-tipped cutting equipment to break through cell saloons before scaling the walls of Pentonville prison and escaping.

Matthew Baker, 28, was awaiting convict following his belief for attempted slaughter and James Whitlock, 31, was on remand after being charged with burglary.

Escapes from British prisons are rare and when they happen they are usually touch the headlines.

Train robber Ronnie Biggs flees from Wandsworth prison, 1965

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Perhaps the best known escape of all time from a British prison took place in 1965 when Ronnie Biggs, one of the so-called Great Train Robbers, broke out of HMP Wandsworth in southern London.

He scaled the prison wall using a rope ladder and escaped in a removals van.

Biggs had served simply 19 months of a 30 -year sentence for his part in the fraud of 2.6 m from the Glasgow to London mail train in 1963.

He spent 36 years on the run in Australia and then Brazil before being rearrested when he willingly returned to Britain in May 2001.

He was released from prison in August 2009 on compassionate dirts after contracting pneumonia and died in December 2013 – nine months after attending the funeral of fellow Great Train Robber, Bruce Reynolds.

Soviet spy George Blake flees from Wormwood Scrubs, 1966

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Former British spy George Blake was sentenced to 42 years in 1961 after being exposed as a Soviet double agent.

He escaped from Wormwood Scrubs prison in west London five years later with two other inpatients, expending a rope ladder with reverberates made out of knitting needles.

Blake fled to the Soviet Union where he inaugurated a brand-new life, and is still believed to be living in Moscow today.

IRA hostages escape from the Maze, 1983

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The biggest prison escape in British record took place during 25 September 1983 when 38 IRA prisoners broke out of the maximum insurance Maze prison in County Antrim.

The servicemen – who had been convicted of criminal offences straddling from assassinate to inducing detonations – escaped after taking a number of prison guards hostage.

One prison officer was killed and another was seriously injured in the break-out, in which prisoners used smuggled guns and knives to overwhelm staff before hijacking a nutrient lorry which they used to drive to the central gate.

Fifteen hostages were recaptured within hours of the flee, with most of the residue eventually tracked down by the security services.

The incident was deeply humiliating for the UK government, with then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher describing it as “the gravest[ break away] in our present history.”

Extradition requests for three of the fugitives were dropped by the government in 2000 as part of the Good Friday Agreement. Two other people were granted an amnesty by ministers in 2002.

Pub assassin John Massey breaks out of Pentonville prison, 2012

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One of the UK’s longest-serving prisoners, John Massey, fled from Pentonville prison in northern London in June 2012, apparently hiding in the prison gym before clambering onto the roof and scaling the wall applying a makeshift lasso fashioned from netting.

Then 64, Massey was acting a life sentence for filming dead doorman Charlie Higgins with a sawn-off shotgun at The Cricketers pub in Clapton, east London, in 1975.

He spent 48 hours on the run before being arrested in Kent.

It was not his first flee – it is understood he broke out of Surrey’s Coldingley prison in April 1994, reportedly fleeing to Spain before he was returned to custody.

In 2007 he was secreted on parole, but violated his curfew to go and live their lives his dying parent. He was recalled to prison and later sent to Ford open prison in West Sussex, but again absconded and went on the run for 10 months.

IRA captives break out of Brixton Prison, 1991

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Image caption Nessan Quinlivan( left) and Pearse McAuley

Pearse McAuley and Nessan Quinlivan, both members of the Provisional IRA, escaped from Brixton Prison in southern London in July 1991 after quashing one of the guards and scaling the walls.

The pair had been awaiting trial on commissions relating to a suspected story to assassinate a former brewery corporation chairman, Sir Charles Tidbury.

After the break-out they plagiarize a automobile are subordinate to a prison man and drove to Baker Street Underground station – eventually absconding to the Republic of Ireland.

In August 2009, the Crown Prosecution Service said it was no longer seeking to prosecute the two men over the planned because there was “no realistic potential of conviction”.

Killer John Straffen escapes from Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, 1952

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Convicted double murderer John Straffen escaped from Broadmoor psychiatric hospital in Berkshire in April 1952 by clambering onto the roof of a shed and jumping over a wall.

Within an hour of escaping he had slaughtered a five-year-old neighbourhood girl, Linda Bowyer.

He was recaptured the same day, convicted of the girl’s assassination and sentenced to fatality, though this was later reduced to life imprisonment.

The previous year he had appeared in courtroom over the assassination of Cicely Batstone, nine, and six-year-old Brenda Goddard, but was located incompetent to stand test and sent to Broadmoor.

Straffen, Britain’s longest-serving hostage, died in 2007 at persons under the age of 77.

His escape in 1952 led to the installation of the Broadmoor siren to alert local residents of an inmate on the loose, an alarm which is still measured every Monday.

‘Skull Cracker’ Michael Wheatley absconds while on period liberation, 2014

Image copyright Kent Police

Michael Wheatley was serving a life sentence at Standford Hill prison on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent when he faded while on day exhaust on 3 May 2014.

Four days later Wheatley, who had 23 previous convictions for theft, two for attempted robbery and 18 for related firearms offences, attacked a Surrey building society, shaping off with 18,350.

He was on the run for five days before being arrested in Tower Hamlets, east London. He was jailed and told he was required to provide 10 years before being eligible for parole, though this was reduced to eight years.

Wheatley had gone on the run twice before and each time staged a series of brutal thefts before being caught and re-jailed.

He earned his nickname for using an imitation handgun as a blunt weapon to thumped people – including a 73 -year-old woman – during his robberies.

An earlier form of this story incorrectly stated that 83 hostages had fled from the Maze in 1983. The correct figure is 38 .

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