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

Mon, 15:54
London Metropolitan University's campus in Holloway. The university has announced plans to move all of its faculties onto one new campus, for the first time in its 170-year history. Picture: London Metropolitan University

An ambitious £125million scheme to transform a university site into a “showpiece” campus has been announced.

Mon, 12:51
Holloway Road, Holloway, where a suspected mugger fell ill after being detained by members of the public and handcuffed by police. He died in hospital on Saturday. Picture: Google Street View.

A post-mortem examination on a suspected mugger who died after being detained by members of the public was inconclusive, police have revealed.

Mon, 11:00
An artist's impression of how Barnard Park would look after redevelopment, including the new football pitch and green spaces

Islington’s footballers stand to benefit from plans to overhaul one of the borough’s main parks.

Mon, 10:51
Former Holloway Prison guard Joseph de Souza, 51, has been sentenced to 12 weeks in jail after pleading guilty to one count of committing misconduct in a public office. Picture: PA

A former prison officer who sold tips to the Daily Mirror about the mother of tragic Baby P has been jailed for 12 weeks.

Mon, 07:00
Cllr Watts cuts the ribbon with Frances Punter and Tracey Breslin of the tenants and residents group

A disused storeroom has been converted into the heartbeat of a community.

Saturday, October 10, 2015
Emma with Edie and Arthur

A mum is braving the fifth anniversary of her baby being stillborn by running the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon tomorrow.

Friday, October 9, 2015
Volunteers will help sufferers of dementia to continue doing their favourite hobbies

A local Alzheimer’s charity is looking for volunteers for a new service to help people with dementia.

Friday, October 9, 2015
The man whose body was recovered from the Regent’s Canal has been named as Sebastiano Magnanini

Paul Williams, 61, of no fixed abode was on the evening of Thursday, October 8, charged with preventing lawful burial.

Most read news


Angharad Baa Stool in Rare Breed.

Great British Life is offering a sheepskin footstool worth £199 to a lucky reader

Amazon: Everything you want to buy all in one place!

With £1,500 to spend online at Amazon, there’s really nothing you can’t buy.

You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

Digital Edition

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

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder