29/08/2018 13:49 BST

Manhunt Launched After Two Convicted Rapists Escape Gloucestershire Prison

The two men left HMP Leyhill after forcing a door open in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Avon And Somerset Police
John-Paul Knowlson and Stuart O’Neill

A manhunt has been launched following the escape of two convicted rapists from HMP Leyhill, Gloucestershire.

John-Paul Knowlson, 30 and Stuart O’Neill, 29, managed to leave the prison after forcing a door open in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Knowlson was convicted of rape at Bristol Crown Court in 2011 and was transferred to Leyhill in September 2017.

O’Neill was convicted of rape, burglary and theft offences in 2009 at Manchester Crown Court. He was transferred to HMP Leyhill a month after Knowlson.

A statement from Avon and Somerset Police said: “If anyone sees O’Neill or Knowlson or knows of their whereabouts, we’d ask you not to approach them but to call us immediately on 999, providing the call handler with the reference 5218193274.”

Alongside photographs, the police have issued a brief description of the pair, stating that Knowlson is a 5ft 5ins white man of medium build, with brown eyes.

He has a West Country accent, a cross tattoo on his right arm and was last seen wearing a red tracksuit top.

O’Neill is a white man, 6ft 1ins tall and also of medium build, with blue eyes and a beard.

O’Neill speaks with a Mancunian accent and has a tattoo which reads “O’Neill” on the base of his neck. He’s from the Lancashire area and is said to have “strong links” to Manchester.

Both men were serving indefinite sentences for their offences.