Three balaclava-clad men armed with sledgehammers broke murder suspect John Anslow out of a prison van, a court heard this afternoon.
A jury was told that masked men unlocked the door of the prison van transporting Anslow to Stafford Crown Court and punched the driver in the mouth.
Just moments earlier, the guards had been joking with Anslow about somebody holding up the van.
After Anslow escaped, the prosecution believe he was taken to Coventry and then on to Liverpool. He later fled to Cyprus and was not found until March this year when he was deported.
The trial of six people charged with organising the escape of John Anslow started at Woolwich Crown Court today.
Anslow pleaded guilty to conspiracy to escape yesterday, while four others did the same last week.
The remaining six, including Anslow’s girlfriend Samantha Glover, are charged with springing him out of the prison van on January 23 last year.
Prosecutor Mr Michael Burrows today branded Anslow ‘a ruthless and resourceful criminal’.
He said: “This escape was carefully planned by John Anslow with others. They had to be people who could be trusted to do their job, with ruthless efficiency. He needed people who would threaten and use whatever violence was necessary to get him off the van.”
The court also heard that Anslow used a mobile phone from inside prison to organise his escape.
Mr Burrows said the dramatic escape began when a Volkswagen Scirocco car pulled in front of the van. “Three men wearing black balaclavas got out of the car. They attacked the van with a sledgehammer, shattering the windscreen and the driver’s window,” he said
“They dragged the driver out, they opened the side door of the van and let John Anslow out. He and the three men then ran to the car and they drove off at speed and got away.”
Glover, aged 27, of Parkes Lane, Tipton; Robert Riddell, 41, of Flamborough Close in Birmingham; Stuart Reid, 52, of Church Lane, in Coventry; Craig Wright, 29, of no fixed address; Ben O’Reilly, 30, of Austin Crofts in Birmingham and Daniel Morgan, 29, of Parkeston Crescent in Birmingham have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to escape.
Yesterday Anslow, who became one of Britain’s most notorious fugitives after the escape, admitted his role in the escape.
The 33-year-old was wearing a bright yellow prison uniform when he escaped near HMP Hewell in Worcestershire in January 2012. He was on his way to court where he was charged with the murder of a Staffordshire man.
Anslow, from Tipton, was caught in April this year in Alancak, Northern Cyprus, and deported to Heathrow where he was arrested.
Yesterday at Woolwich Crown Court he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to escape from lawful custody. Four other men, including a prisoner in HMP Hewell, admitted helping Anslow plan and carry out his escape.
Paul Cadby, 47, of Erdington, Birmingham, prisoner Luke Hazel, aged 24, Moysha Shepherd, 32, of Hamstead Road, Great Barr, and Ryan Powell, 21, of Ladywood, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist Anslow escape.
The trial continues.