MURDER suspect John Anslow broke out of custody after prison staff took short-cuts with security, a court has heard.

Anslow, 33, was being transported from HMP Hewell, where he was being held after being charged with the murder of a man in 2010, to court in Stafford on January 23, 2012.

He was sprung from the van by balaclava-clad men wielding sledgehammers and a shotgun, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

During his trial, where he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to escape from lawful custody, the court was told that Anslow, a classified flight risk, smuggled materials up his bottom out of the Tardebigge prison after guards failed to perform full checks.

Investigators found clingfilm, paper and pieces of a latex glove with faecal matter inside his prison van after he had escaped.

Michael Burrows QC, for the prosecution, said: "The one thing Anslow had and would have needed to hide would be a phone."

He added that he was strip-searched and asked to squat by an officer on the morning he escaped but should have been scanned for electrical devices and placed on his own in a holding cell but he wasn't.

Four other men admitted to helping Anslow plan and carry out his escape.

Paul Cadby, 47, of Woodcote Road in Erdington, Luke Hazel, 24, of HMP Hewell, Moysha Shepherd, 23, of Hamstead Road, Great Barr and Ryan Powell, aged 21, of Shenstone Road, Ladywood, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist Anslow in his escape.

Six other people – five men and one woman – are still on trial in connection with the escape.

Detective Superintendent Daryn Elton, head of Specialist Operations at West Mercia Police, said: “His admission of guilt means that we can be in no doubt that there was a deliberate and planned effort on his behalf to escape from lawful custody.

“However, as six people remain defendants in an ongoing trial, in order to avoid prejudicing those proceedings, we are unable to go into too much detail about the case at this time.

“What we can say though is that Anslow engineered his own escape via mobile phone while in prison. He used this phone to contact Paul Cadby – who was pivotal in organising Anslow’s escape outside the prison walls.”

The car used to spring Anslow was later located and forensic evidence found inside lead police to believe that Moysha Shephard and Ryan Powell were two of the men involved in this part of the escape.

Anslow went on the run and became one of the UK’s most wanted men. He was arrested earlier this year in Cyprus and deported to the UK.

Detective Superintendent Elton added: “West Mercia Police’s involvement in this investigation has been around finding those responsible for conspiring to break Anslow out of prison, which now – due to his own admission and those of others – is no longer in dispute.”