John Anslow cleared of murdering Staffordshire businessman Richard Deakin

John Anslow, once Britain’s most wanted man, was this afternoon cleared of the murder of a Staffordshire businessman.

BRITAIN - John Anslow
John Anslow, left, and Richard Deakin

The Tipton criminal escaped from custody after being charged in the case and fled to Northern Cyprus.

While he was on the run he was convicted of a major drugs conspiracy.

And today it can be revealed that he is serving 29 years for that offence and escaping from jail.

However today he was cleared of any involvement in the murder of 27-year-old father-of two Richard Deakin who was shot dead in his bed in Chasetown July 2010.

John Anslow and Richard Deakin
John Anslow and Richard Deakin

The 33-year-old was unanimously found not guilty of murder after five hours of deliberations by a jury at Woolwich Crown Court.

This afternoon reporting restrictions were lifted meaning it can be revealed for the first time that he is currently serving a 22-year sentence for drug trafficking and more than seven years for the escape.

It was while he was in custody on drugs charges he hatched violent plan to escape from prison in January 2012.

He was sprung from a prison van as he was being escorted from HMP Hewell near Redditch to Stafford Crown Court.

He fled to Cyprus and was on the run until March of last year, when he was arrested on immigration offences and deported back to the UK.

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How we reported John Anslow's escape in 2012

His escape sparked a worldwide manhunt and Anslow was officially Britain’s Most Wanted Man.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to escape at Woolwich Crown Court last September, while the sentence for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis was handed down in his absence in 2012.

See also: How daring plot to bust John Anslow out of prison sparked worldwide hunt

Drug baron sprung by pals to flee to sun

Life term for two guilty of murdering businessman Richard Deakin

Black Country murder suspect John Anslow arrested

Execution killing of Richard Deakin shocked a quiet suburb

Gunman David Harrison and getaway driver Darryl Dickens have previously been convicted of Mr Deakin’s murder after a joint trial at Birmingham Crown Court in December 2012.

Anslow was accused of organising Mr Deakin’s killing.

But he successfully argued that frequent phone use between him and Harrison, who is his uncle, was down to their use in drug dealing which the trial heard could be anything from a few kilos to 240 kilos of cannabis resin.

Staffordshire Police today said they were disappointed with the verdict.

Detective Chief Inspector Darren Harding, who led the murder investigation, said: “We accept the decision returned by the jury today which follows a very lengthy investigation into the tragic murder of Richard Deakin.

“John Anslow, 33, formerly of Tipton, West Midlands, has been at the centre of a number of investigations, not covered by the media due to reporting restrictions, and this was the final case involving him to be heard at court.

“Detectives, and colleagues from the Crown Prosecution Service, worked meticulously to gather and present all the available evidence – their work should not be undermined by this outcome and I am thankful for all those involved in bringing this case to court.”

Prisoner escape
The brightly coloured jail clothing worn by Anslow when he escaped

And he added: “We are very disappointed by the result but we cannot lose sight of the fact that Anslow is already serving a significant prison sentence - 29-years in total having been jailed for seven years and two months after pleading guilty to conspiring to escape from prison, and 22 years for drug supply offences.

“We remain focused on the positive outcomes of these preceding cases which up until now we have been unable to publicise.

“Anslow was sentenced in September 2012, along with seven others, for his involvement in large-scale drug supply. But reporting restrictions in place at the time meant Anslow’s involvement could not be revealed.

“The joint investigation by Staffordshire Police and West Midlands Police ran alongside the Richard Deakin murder inquiry and uncovered an extensive network of drug dealing, based in the West Midlands but spread further afield.

“Most importantly, our thoughts remain with Richard’s family and we cannot underestimate the pain and trauma they have experienced. I hope they can now start to move on with their lives.”

Mr Deakin’s murder shocked the Chasetown community. He was gunned down just minutes after his fiancée Megan left the family home in Meadway Street to take their two daughters to school.

CCTV of his killer - Bilston man Harrison - was broadcast across the nation as an appeal to find his murderer was on BBC show Crimewatch.

Harrison, who wore a balaclava and latex gloves and used a sawn off shotgun, was identified from the images on the programme.

In a search of his home police found £26,000 and a copy of the Express & Star dated a year on from the murder, in which an appeal to find those responsible was made.

The gunman, David Harrison, and the driver of the getaway car, Darryl Dickens, were jailed for life in December 2012 following a six-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court. Harrison was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 37 years and Dickens was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 30 years.