Prison officers sue over Joe Farnan escape in London

Joe Farnan
Image caption Two masked men, one with a gun, demanded the prison officers release Joe Farnan

Three prison officers are suing the Ministry of Justice for the trauma they suffered when armed men confronted them to free an inmate.

Robert Burn, Wayne De Man, and Ann Shalloe were threatened when they were escorting Joe Farnan from Wormwood Scrubs prison to Hammersmith Hospital.

All three claimed in the High Court that their injuries were caused by a breach of duty or negligence.

The Ministry of Justice denies liability over the 2007 incident.

Mr Justice Mackay, in the High Court, heard Mr Burn and Mr De Man, both 47, and Ms Shalloe, 44, were escorting the prisoner in an ambulance.

When the door of the vehicle opened they were confronted by balaclava-clad men, one holding a pistol, demanding the release of Farnan.

Farnan, of Bermondsey, was arrested days later in the Docklands area.

'Dummy run'

Craig Sephton QC said Farnan was a "dangerous" man, who received an indeterminate sentence for the protection of the public with a minimum term of five years in 2006.

He had successfully escaped from custody twice and made at least two other attempts, including a successful bid in which he pretended to hang himself.

In another attempt in December 2006 he was taken to hospital after suffering an apparent seizure.

After that attempt an assessment found that the risk of his escape was high and a source informed that it had been a "dummy run".

But Farnan's categorisation was not upgraded to "B" from "C" and then in January 2007 he was taken to hospital again after he appeared to be having a seizure, Mr Sephton said.

Mr De Man is claiming up to £50,000 saying that the incident caused severe symptoms which led him to retire in February 2010 on the grounds of ill-health.

Mr Burn is claiming up to £15,000 because the moderate post traumatic stress disorder he suffered from left him unable to take part in hospital escorts.

Ms Shalloe said she believed her and her colleagues' lives were in danger and since the incident has developed both depressive illness and post traumatic stress disorder.

She said she had not been able to look for any work since May 2010, the court heard.

The case continues.

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