Escaped prisoner Tony Downes arrested in Amsterdam

Kirk Bradley and Tony Downes
Image caption Tony Downes (r) absconded from the van with Kirk Bradley

A Liverpool man who escaped from a prison van in Manchester has been arrested in Amsterdam.

Tony Downes, 26, was travelling from HMP Manchester to Liverpool Crown Court to face firearms charges when the van was attacked by armed men last July.

Merseyside Police said he was arrested in Amsterdam on 9 March on suspicion of possessing a firearm and as a result of an outstanding European arrest warrant.

Kirk Bradley, 26, who also escaped from the prison van, is still on the run.

The pair were due to go on trial charged with conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to cause damage with intent to endanger life when they escaped.

The van the men were travelling in was ambushed by armed men on Trinity Way in Manchester on 18 July.

The gang then fled with the prisoners in a Saab, which was found abandoned about a mile away in Barrow Street, Salford.

Failed grenade attack

The incident led to the collapse of the trial, but both were convicted in their absence at a retrial at Woolwich Crown Court last week.

Downes is due to be sentenced at the same court on Thursday.

Police have urged anyone with information about the whereabouts of Bradley, from Formby, Merseyside, to contact them or Crimestoppers anonymously.

Image caption The van was attacked by masked and armed men in July 2011

Downes was said to be at the top of gang which carried out attacks for others in the Liverpool underworld.

Last month Woolwich Crown Court heard that the home of a wealthy businessman living in the same street as Liverpool football manager Kenny Dalglish was the target of two shootings.

John Ball hired a security guard to keep watch on his home in Southport, Merseyside, following the attacks in March and June 2009, the court was told.

He is also believed to have been the target of a failed grenade attack in July 2009.

But the device was left on Mr Dalglish's wall by one of two men who ran off when police officers arrived at the scene, the court heard.

Before the retrial, three of Downes' and Bradley's co-accused admitted charges of possessing firearms and causing criminal damage with intent to endanger life.

They will also be sentenced on Thursday.

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