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Men sentenced to more than 34 years in jail for prisoner escape
2:10pm Thursday 26th December 2013 in News
SEVEN men have been sentenced to more than 34 years in jail for helping a prisoner break free from a prison van outside HMP Hewell.
The prisoner – who cannot be named for legal reasons – went on the run for over a year following his escape from the van in January 2012.
The inmate was being transported from the Tardebigge prison – where he was being held after being charged with murder – to court, when the van he was being escorted in was forced to stop by a car blocking the road.
Three men wearing balaclavas, carrying what appeared to be firearms and sledgehammers, then got out of the car, smashed the windows of the prison van, before dragging the driver out of his seat, assaulting him and demanding he open the main door to release the prisoner.
The man – who is in his 30s – then evaded capture for more than a year before being arrested in Northern Cyprus for immigration offences in March 2013 and deported back to the UK.
Following an eight-week trial at Woolwich Crown Court which ended in November, two men – who denied any involvement in helping the prisoner escape – were found guilty of conspiring to assist escape from lawful custody.
Last week, His Honour Judge Kinch QC sentenced one of these men, who also cannot be named, to six years in prison.
The second man, Robert Riddell, aged 41, of Flamborough Close, Castle Bromwich, was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison.
At the start of the trial, the prisoner himself pleaded guilty to conspiring to escape from prison.
He has been sentenced to seven years and two months in prison.
Four other men also pleaded guilty to conspiring to help him escape from lawful custody.
Moysha Shepherd, aged 23, of Hamstead Road, Great Barr has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison; Ryan Powell, aged 21, of Shenstone Road, Ladywood and Luke Hazel aged 25 of HMP Hewell formerly Hockley have each been sentenced to four years and three months in prison; and Paul Cadby, aged 47, of Woodcote Road, Erdington has been given a four year sentence.
Reflecting on the sentencing, superintendent Kevin Purcell, the policing commander for the north Worcestershire area, said: “We are satisfied with the sentences handed to these men, which reflect the serious nature of the offences they committed.
“This was a carefully planned and well thought out escape plan. While the men’s motives to free the prisoner remain unknown, we hope their lengthy sentences serve as a deterrent to anyone else who would consider taking such risks for another.
“We also hope their imprisonment reassures local people that when prisoners do abscond from prisons in our area, we will do all we can to find them and uncover anyone else who may have aided their escape, leaving no stone unturned.
“This has been a challenging and lengthy inquiry and on behalf of the force, I would like to thank our colleagues at Staffordshire Police, who led the investigation to find the prisoner following his escape.
"They, along with officers from West Midlands Police, have been vital in helping us with our inquiries into the conspiracy and bringing these men to justice.”
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