Questions raised over Pentonville Prison’s future after embarrassing prisoner escape

07:18 06 July 2012

Pentonville in Caledonian Road, Holloway

Pentonville in Caledonian Road, Holloway


Pentonville Prison’s future as a high security jail has been questioned following the escape of a dangerous murderer last week.

As an inquiry into how 64-year-old John Massey managed to jump the walls of the prison gets under way, Caledonian ward councillor Paul Convery, also the council’s crime chief, said the facility has “had its time” locking up some of Britain’s most feared villains.

Massey, who was sentenced to life in 1976 for killing a bouncer in Hackney with a sawn-off shotgun, reportedly used a makeshift rope of sheets to scale the walls of the Victorian prison in Caledonian Road, Holloway, on Wednesday.

After a nationwide manhunt in which the public was warned not to approach him, he was captured at an address in Kent on Friday.

Another man was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting an absconder.

Cllr Convery said: “Quite how a man in his mid-60s legged it up over a wall and back down using a makeshift rope, I don’t know. There must be some very red faces in the prison service.

“It is a very old prison and a very old building under constant modernisation to keep it fit for purpose, and my personal feeling is that it has had its time as a high security prison.

‘‘It’s about time we had a proper conversation about its future.”

He continued: “People living close to the prison were disconcerted and very troubled. If you look at the old ordnance survey maps covering Pentonville Prison, it’s just this completely blank area in our neighbourhood and a lot of the time that’s exactly what it feels like to those living around it.

“It takes something like this to remind us that 1,400 quite dangerous people are locked up in there.”

It’s the third time Massey, who was also convicted of attempting to shoot at a policeman from his Aston Martin getaway car, has broken out of jail, and he has become one of the country’s longest serving prisoners because of his repeated escapes.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice could not comment any further other than to confirm an investigation had been launched.


Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 16:00
Archway Resource Centre, on Waterlow Road, provides an irreplaceable setting of community

Eight charities fear for their futures after being evicted from their low-rent premises.

Yesterday, 14:00
Islington Youth Council, 2016-18. From left: Mohamed Abaas, Serkan Marasli, Honey Baker, Venetia McNally, Iqra Finiin, Miriam Fleary, Chikamso Ben-Nwankwo, Diana Lucia Gomez Paniagua, Tega Agbede, Noe Buttery, Darey Cletus and Zarin Haque

Islington’s Youth Council election was “a victory for youth democracy” as a record number of young people voted.

Yesterday, 11:31
Jessie, pictured here with John Cronin, went missing outside Your Local Express in Liverpool Road

A dog that was stolen from outside a shop earlier this month has been returned to his owners alive and well – just in time for Christmas.

Yesterday, 09:30
Vaso Kakko

Detectives investigating the murder of 17-year-old Vaso Kakko in Holloway made an arrest yesterday.

Yesterday, 07:00
A film beams from outside Tintype, Essex Road, last year. Photo: Cameron Leadbetter

An Essex Road art gallery will be impossible to ignore over the next month, as it launches an exhibition of short films beamed directly to shoppers and passers-by.

Mon, 17:33
Police believe these two men could help with investigations

Police have released images of two men they would like to speak to as part of an investigation into a sexual assault in Old Street.

Mon, 17:04
The group left the train at Highbury and Islington.

A “good Samaritan” was left needing hospital treatment after he was attacked while trying to stop a woman from being sexually assaulted on

Mon, 14:30
Sarah Dunant (L), artist and refugee Neda with her artwork, and actress Juliet Stevenson (R)

The Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants is urgently appealing for more donations in the run-up to Christmas in order to stay open for an extra day each week.

Most read news


Win a beautiful monochrome tunic dress with Great British Life!

Great British Life is offering a beautiful monochrome silk tunic dress worth £179 to one lucky reader

Nike Trainers

Nike’s motto is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ With this in mind it’s no surprise why Nike is the preferred training gear for most A-list athletes. Get an extra boost in your run or height in your jump with £500 to spend on Nike trainers.

Digital Edition

Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder