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Murder suspect escapes on way to court

John Anslow, 31, goes on the run after a van carrying him from prison to court is ambushed in north Worcestershire

A prisoner charged with murder is on the run after the van carrying him to court was ambushed in north Worcestershire by men wearing balaclavas, police say.

John Anslow, 31, is considered dangerous and members of the public should not approach him, West Mercia police said. He is one of five men charged with the murder of Richard Deakin, who was shot dead in Chasetown, Staffordshire, last year.

Anslow, who was held in HMP Hewell in Redditch, Worcestershire, was among three prisoners being transported to Stafford crown court in a prison transport van run by GEO Amey, a private company.

At about 8.20am, when the van was in Tardebigge, near Bromsgrove, close to the prison, it was ambushed by three men wearing balaclavas, two of whom were carrying sledgehammers, who drove up in a silver Volkswagen Scirocco. They smashed the windscreen and driver's window of the prison van.

"The van driver was punched but no serious injuries were sustained by escort staff," Detective Inspector Jon Marsden of West Mercia police said. "There were two other prisoners in the van at the time, neither of whom were released.

"The Scirocco drove off at speed. The group are believed to have switched to a silver Mercedes car in Stoney Lane, Bromsgrove, soon after."

Marsden added: "Anslow has recently been charged with murder and is considered dangerous. We are working closely with our colleagues from West Midlands and Staffordshire police forces and a large number of officers from all three forces are involved in the search for him. However, we would urge any members of the public who sees him not to approach him directly, but to contact police immediately on 999."

Anslow, from Tipton, was charged on 18 January. He is white, 5ft 10in tall, of medium build, with short straight dark brown hair.

Hewell prison was created in 2008 by the amalgamation of the three former prisons on the same site: Blakenhurst, Brockhill and Hewell Grange. It houses more than 1,400 inmates across three blocks, holding category B, C and D prisoners.

Since it's creation Hewell's main claim to national attention came last year when it emerged that two offenders on day release from the facility were allowed to do painting and decoration in the constituency home of former home secretary Jacqui Smith when they were supposed to be doing community work.

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