Huge manhunt launched after two inmates sprung as prison van ambushed

 

Police launched a massive manhunt today for two men who went on the run after being sprung from a prison van.

Ryan MacDonald, 20, and Stevie McMullen, 31, were freed in Salford by three men - one believed to have been armed - who attacked the van as it made its way to Manchester Crown Court where they were due to be sentenced.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan told a press conference that both men "represent a risk to the community, in particular Stevie McMullen", urging anyone who saw them to call 999 immediately.

"I am concerned about them being on the loose, they are responsible for some serious offences," he said.

"I don't think they pose a risk unless approached so it's really important that if anyone sees them they contact us straightaway."

A man and a woman are in custody after being arrested on the Ordsall Estate, where the Saab car used to take the men from the scene was later abandoned, he added.

McMullen was due to be sentenced for conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit arson, possession of a firearm, and other offences, with Mr Mulligan saying "he in particular is someone we need to trace as soon as possible".

MacDonald was due to be sentenced for conspiracy to commit robbery.

A third person in the van carried on to court, police said.

The van came under attack shortly after 9am in Regent Road, Salford, a main road into Manchester about half a mile from the city's Crown Court and Strangeways prison.

One of the men who sprang the prisoners may be armed with a sawn-off shotgun, which was used to smash the windscreen of the van during the attack, Mr Mulligan added.

The Saab was abandoned in Regent Road, near a roundabout at the end of the M602. Three men ran off on to the Ordsall Estate and the other two got on to a motorcycle, later found abandoned in Thurlow Street in Salford Quays.

"It's very concerning, obviously," Mr Mulligan told reporters. "We have got a major investigation in place, we've got increased police presence in the area and a major investigation is ongoing to recover these people back into custody and also find those responsible for the offences."

He went on: "Shortly after the escape we've actually detained two people on the Ordsall Estate - a male and a female.

"I must stress these aren't the two individuals that escaped from the prison van but we believe or suspect that they may be involved in the actual escape. They're currently in custody at the moment.

"We do have in place a major investigation, we are following all lines of inquiry. What I will promise is we will return these people to custody."

The brazen rush-hour raid took place just off the same stretch of road as a similar attack on another prison van.

Liverpool gangsters Tony Downes and Kirk Bradley escaped in an ambush in July 2011 as they were being taken from Strangeways jail to their trial al Liverpool Crown Court.

The van ambushed today was operated by prisoner escort firm GEOAmey and was on its way to court from privately-run HMP Altcourse near Liverpool.

The guards were left "very shaken" but uninjured after the incident, police said.

Altcourse is run by G4S, the firm behind the Olympics security fiasco, and was the first privately designed, constructed, managed and financed prison in the UK.

The Category B jail takes young offenders and adult male prisoners either sentenced or on remand from courts in Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales and can hold up to 1,324 prisoners.

GEOAmey runs some 12,500 prisoner movements a week in its fleet of around 500 purpose-built custodial vehicles, which come in different sizes with either two, four, six or 10 cells.

All of the firm's vehicles contain closed-circuit television (CCTV).

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen