Dagenham attempted murderer among two prisoners on the run after jailbreak

James Whitlock

James Whitlock - Credit: Archant

An attempted murderer is among two men on the run from prison after they reportedly stuffed pillows in their beds and cut through cell bars.

The pair escaped from Pentonville Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA

The pair escaped from Pentonville Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA - Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES

Matthew Baker, who was found guilty of stabbing a man in Dagenham 25 times following a dispute, and James Whitlock, who was on remand having been charged with conspiracy to burgle, escaped from Pentonville.

The jailbreak was discovered on Monday morning when guards found the body-shaped dummies in the beds of the two prisoners, who are 28 and 31 years old respectively.

Police launched a manhunt after the escape was reported shortly before midday.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “Public protection is our top priority and we take escapes from custody extremely seriously. We are working closely with the police and are urgently investigating the matter.”

The pair escaped from Pentonville Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA

The pair escaped from Pentonville Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA - Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES


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Whitlock is described as a white man of slim build. He has the word “Tracy” tattooed on his torso. Baker – who was due to be sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday – is described as a white man with ginger hair.

It is not known what clothing either man had when escaping from the prison.

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Latest reports have indicated they used diamond-tipped cutting equipment to break through cell bars, before scaling the perimeter walls.

There were also suggestions that the escape was uncovered – when staff found the inmates’ beds stuffed with pillows in the shape of bodies. Initial reports had suggested mannequins had been left in the beds.

A woman who visited the prison said an inmate had told her the two prisoners escaped through a cell window on the fifth floor. She said it was rumoured that they used bed sheets to lower themselves down.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “They cut one of the bars and then they came down through the window. They are assuming that it was probably bed sheets and it was at night.”

A male visitor, who also wished to remain anonymous, said he was told the escapees folded bed sheets in the shape of a body to fool staff into believing they were asleep.

Police are asking the public to call 999 should they see either man, and not to approach them as they could become violent. Alternatively, to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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