John Anslow Escape: Police Make Arrest In Hunt For Murder Suspect

Arrest Made In Hunt For Fugitive 'Extremely Dangerous' Murder Suspect

Detectives hunting an "extremely dangerous" murder suspect who escaped from a prison van following a "well-orchestrated armed ambush" have arrested a man in connection with the incident.

Officers from West Midlands Police detained the suspect last night just hours after Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke ordered an inquiry into how John Anslow was able to be sprung from custody despite being classed as a highly dangerous category A prisoner.

The van carrying the prisoners was attacked by three men

The 31-year-old, who is now at the centre of an international manhunt, escaped after a gang of three masked men stopped the prison van, smashed its windows with sledgehammers and punched its driver as it was taking inmates from Hewell Prison in Redditch to Stafford Crown Court yesterday morning.

Instead of being transferred in a high-security prison service van with a police escort, Anslow was with other inmates in a van run by a private contractor.

His status was only upgraded after he was charged with the murder of businessman Richard Deakin last week.

Detectives hunting for Anslow last night executed five search warrants in the Tipton area of the West Midlands and arrested a man in connection with the suspected killer's escape.

Detective Superintendent Martin Evans of Staffordshire Police, the force leading the hunt, said: "We have (been) working closely with colleagues in the West Midlands and West Mercia police forces to help investigate the escape of John Anslow.

"The searches of these addresses is just one element of this fast moving investigation.

"Police have also arrested a male from an address in the Tipton area in connection with the escape. He remains in police custody whilst the investigation progresses."

Anslow was due to be taken to a category A prison, rather than back to Hewell Prison which was designed for lower risk category B, C and D inmates, after his court hearing, but he was sprung from custody at around 8.20am.

He is the first category A prisoner to escape from custody in more than 17 years.

The inquiry ordered by Mr Clarke yesterday will consider Anslow's "security categorisation" and the "management of the prisoner so that we can learn lessons for the future", he said.

Category A status is reserved for those prisoners whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public, police or security, and for whom the aim is to make escape impossible.

Anslow is the first such prisoner to escape since 1995 when Matthew Williams, serving a life sentence for planting a bomb, administering poisons and arson, was among three men who escaped from Parkhurst jail on the Isle of Wight.

Detectives warned Anslow is "extremely dangerous" and should not be approached by the public.

Three masked men, including two armed with sledgehammers, used a silver Volkswagen Scirocco to stop the prison van shortly after it left the prison.

The guards were threatened with a blade, and the driver punched, in Hewell Lane, Tardebigge, before Anslow escaped.

Police believe the gang then switched to a silver Mercedes car, with the partial registration KR11, in Stoney Lane, Bromsgrove, soon after the attack.

Mr Evans said Anslow, who was also known as Skitz, has strong connections across the country, including London, as well as overseas.

Officers are working with all police forces, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and authorities abroad to track him down, and all airports and railway stations were alerted.

He was described as white, 5ft 10in tall, medium build, with short, straight, dark brown hair.

Detective Inspector Jon Marsden, of West Mercia Police, added that Anslow was one of five men charged with the murder of Mr Deakin, who was shot dead in Staffordshire in 2010.

Mr Deakin, 27, died after being shot while alone at his home in Meadway Street, Chasetown, at about 8.30am on July 5, 2010.

Police launched various appeals for information following his death, including a feature on the BBC's Crimewatch programme, and a £20,000 reward was offered for information about his killing.

Officers said his family were "shocked" by the escape.

Prisoner escort firm GEO Amey confirmed that two of its staff were treated by paramedics at the scene of the attack after both were threatened by the gang and one suffered facial injuries.

Two other prisoners who were also in the van were not released.

One local resident, who lives on a housing estate which overlooks the jail in rural Worcestershire, said he wanted to know how the men knew which van to target.

Speaking outside his semi-detached home on The Park, the 61-year-old, who did not want to be named, said: "What I want to know is how did they know he was in that van? Many leave on a Monday. There would have been two or three behind it."

Last July, the trial of an alleged criminal gang which used guns and grenades to intimidate its rivals collapsed after two defendants escaped from a prison van on the edge of Manchester city centre.

The gang made off and an international search was launched for the two men, with ports and airports in the UK monitored.

And in September 2006, a "violent and dangerous" criminal escaped from a prison van in Redditch after being helped by two masked men armed with a gun.

Two men wearing balaclavas, or with their faces covered, used a firearm to threaten staff in a security van taking the prisoner back to Blakenhurst prison following an appearance before magistrates in Redditch.

HMP Hewell Prison

Mark Leech, editor of the national prisoners' newspaper, Converse, described Anslow's escape as a "monumental" mistake by the prison authorities.

He said: "This is deeply embarrassing for the Prison Service, whose primary function is security and none more so than the security of Category A prisoners.

"Anslow should never have been in a non-secure van, its the kind of cock-up that should never, ever, happen and, make no bones about it, heads should roll for monumental mistakes on this scale."


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