Pentonville escape: Two prisoners ‘stuffed pillows in beds and cut through cell bars’

Pentonville Prison. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA

Pentonville Prison. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Two inmates are on the run from Pentonville after reportedly stuffing pillows in their beds and cutting through cell bars.

Pentonville Prison in Caledonian Road, Islington. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA

Pentonville Prison in Caledonian Road, Islington. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA - Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES

The jailbreak was said to have been discovered this morning when guards found the body-shaped dummies in the beds of the two prisoners, who are said to be cellmates aged 28 and 31.

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 are thought to have used diamond-tipped cutting equipment to break out their cells and scaled the walls of the prison.

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.”

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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.

The last inmate to escape Pentonville was murder convict John Massey in July 2012. He reportedly got onto the roof and used a makeshift rope of sheets to scale the walls.

This latest development comes just three weeks after the killing of 21-year-old inmate Jamal Mahmoud, who was stabbed to death. Basana Kimbembi, 34, has been charged with his murder.

Pentonville, which opened in 1842 and holds 1,200 men, was last year labelled “the most dramatic example of failure” within the prison estate by then justice secretary Michael Gove.

Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry this afternoon said: “This prison must close.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police in Islington were called to HMP Pentonville at 11:44am following reports of two escaped prisoners.

“Officers attended and established with prison staff that two male prisoners, aged 28 and 31, escaped from the prison. Enquiries are ongoing to locate them.”