Escape of murder case man attacked

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE GOVERNMENT sought yesterday to deflect the embarrassment caused by the escape of an alleged murderer by a thinly veiled criticism of police and health authorities.

Joseph Raphael escaped from nurses escorting him to the Old Bailey because hospital authorities could not afford pounds 200 to pay for a police escort. He gave himself up at Brixton police station, south London, early yesterday. Labour demanded an inquiry into 'a system which defies belief, defies common sense and defies the necessity to protect the public'.

Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, replied: 'I would disapprove if the police tried to insist on a charge as a condition for escorting to court a man accused of murder. Those involved must make more sensible arrangements.'

Mr Raphael, 23, was due to appear on a charge of stabbing a taxi driver to death. But he escaped from the car taking him from the Cane Hill secure unit in Coulsdon, Surrey. It later emerged that he was being escorted by two nurses, who were not allowed to use handcuffs, because the hospital could not afford the pounds 200 escort fee.

Yesterday at the Old Bailey, he was remanded in custody to Belmarsh Prison. His trial was fixed for 1 March.

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