Police continue hunt for escaped prisoner Andrew Farndon

Andrew Farndon
Image caption Andrew Farndon escaped from court in 2007

Police are continuing to hunt for a "dangerous" prisoner who escaped when two guards were threatened at gunpoint as he arrived at a Suffolk hospital.

Andrew Farndon, 26, who is serving an indeterminate sentence for causing grievous bodily harm was being taken by taxi to hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

Det Ch Insp Nick Bennett said people should not confront Farndon or the gunman.

Farndon previously escaped from court by leaping from the dock in 2007.

He had arrived at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds at 18:50 GMT on Wednesday when the gunman threatened the guards. He was being taken for treatment to a knife wound.

Hospital staff raised the alarm after saying they could see a man with a gun outside the accident and emergency department, pointing the weapon at two prison officers.

Hammer attack

Moments later, police received a second call from the prison officers, from HMP Highpoint, who said they had a gun pulled on them by a man who had confronted them as they arrived.

Both the prisoner and the man with the gun had then run away across the car park. No-one was hurt in the incident.

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Media captionDet Ch Insp Nick Bennett said the public should not approach Andrew Farndon

Farndon, who is originally from Coventry, is described as white with a shaved head and goatee beard.

He was wearing a dark blue baseball cap and a light-coloured jumper that was padded on the right side due to an injury to his shoulder.

It is thought the pair may have left Suffolk. Police are now liasing with forces across the country to try to find them.

When Farndon escaped by leaping from the dock at Coventry Crown Court in 2007, he was on trial over a hammer attack which left his victim with a fractured skull.

'Degree of planning'

He was sentenced in his absence to an indeterminate sentence for public protection and told he must serve at least two years before being considered for parole.

He was rated a Category C prisoner, a security classification which meant he was considered unlikely to make a determined escape attempt.

However, after his escape on Wednesday, Det Ch Insp Bennett said it seemed "highly likely" the injuries Farndon had received in prison were contrived to ensure a trip to hospital.

He said: "That obviously seems highly likely. I don't think we can look at any other eventuality.

"There would appear to have been a degree of planning in this, with associates on the outside."

Asked if Farndon was dangerous, the detective said: "He was convicted of GBH which, barring murder, makes him as dangerous as you can get.

"We've had the police helicopter up, deployed dogs, spoken to a number of members of the public who witnessed it, and recovered a number of items from the area.

"We know at least two people are involved, maybe more. Members of the public should not approach him."

Budget cuts

The man with the gun is described as white, in his mid 40s, about 5ft 8in tall, of stocky build, possibly with a Scottish accent. He was wearing a white top and blue jeans.

It is thought they may have escaped in a dark car.

Police said they had begun a comprehensive search of the area, including the use of the force helicopter, and were liaising with other agencies and talking to witnesses.

Officers are asking anyone with information about the incident or where Farndon is now to call Suffolk Police as soon as possible - using 999 if necessary for sightings, or 101 to pass on information.

Police are advising members of the public not to approach either of the men but to call officers straight away.

Dean Acaster, of the Prison Officers' Association, raised concerns over security measures in the prison service.

"Are the security restrictions in place in establishments good enough?" he asked.

"When the prison service is faced with budget cuts year on year, there could well be implications around security."

A Prison Service spokeswoman said the incident was a matter for the police, but a full Prison Service inquiry would follow.

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