Alleged killer escapes from nurses

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AN ALLEGED murderer was on the run last night after escaping from two male nurses who were escorting him to court because their hospital could not afford to pay police to do the job.

The nurses, who are not allowed to use handcuffs, were taking Joseph Raphael, 23, to appear before Judge Gerald Butler at the Old Bailey. Mr Raphael is accused of stabbing a minicab driver. The judge issued a warrant for his arrest and said: 'There will no doubt be a full investigation into how on earth this came about.'

Later, it was disclosed that the hospital where Mr Raphael was staying could not afford the fee of more than pounds 200 demanded by the police to escort him to court.

The two nurses from Cane Hill secure unit in Coulsdon, Surrey, could not stop him escaping in Brixton, south London. Cane Hill's manager Ray Smith said later: 'He came to us from prison in November for assessment for the courts.

'The judge has been rather critical of us but he has got to remember we are only nurses. When patients come into this unit they come in from prison, escorted by prison officers, or from courts, escorted by police officers, and usually handcuffed. But when it is time to take them back to court they are not interested in helping us out. Well, they are interested but they want to charge.'

Chief Superintendent Alan Moss, of the Metropolitan Police, said: 'We will be asking for discussions with the Home Office and health authorities to try to resolve future questions of payment.'