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Escaped convict John Anslow drops appeal

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A much longer prison sentence for drug lord John Anslow 'would have been amply justified', a top judge has said.

Anslow was handed a seven-year sentence for a daring escape from custody, after which he fled to Northern Cyprus.

But the judge said he should have been given at least 10 years.

After escaping, the 34-year-old from Tipton became Britain's most wanted man and was at large for 13 months.

He was planning to appeal against the conviction and sentence for escaping, but dramatically abandoned his appeal ahead of a planned hearing yesterday.

One of his accomplices, Stuart Reid, went ahead with his appeal bid, but this was dismissed by the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas, at the Court of Appeal in London.

While on the run, Anslow was handed a 22-year sentence for conspiring to supply drugs.

He was recaptured in early 2013 and then pleaded guilty to the escape at Woolwich Crown Court later that year.

In March 2014, he was cleared of the murder of Cannock businessman Richard Deakin.

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Lord Thomas, who is the country's most senior judge, said Anslow had 'abandoned' his case a few days ago. He did not reveal why.

The hearing continued as accomplice Reid, 53, attempted to clear his name.

Reid had been involved in the violent plot to spring Anslow from a van as it left HMP Hewell, near Redditch, Worcestershire, in January 2012.

A vehicle barred the way of the van and men carrying a sledgehammer and shotgun forced the guards to let Anslow free.

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The prison van at the scene after Anslow escaped

Evidence suggested Reid, of Coventry, was also involved in helping Anslow get out of the UK.

Lord Thomas dismissed Reid's conviction appeal bid and said his six-year sentence - and the seven-and-a-half years given to Anslow - were, if anything, too short.

"Given the gravity of the circumstances in which the escape was planned and executed, including the use of a gun and the threat of extreme violence, the sentence of six years might be regarded as very merciful,' he said.

"A very much longer sentence on both Reid and Anslow would have been amply justified.

"It must be made very clear that those who seek to spring from custody those charged with the gravity of offending of which Anslow was charged should only expect sentences in double figures."

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