TV Appeals In Hunt For Dangerous Criminals

Police searching for two dangerous criminal who have gone on the run after they were freed in separate incidents are hoping televised appeals will lead to more information.

Detectives are following up calls received after the escapes of Andrew Farndon and John Anslow were featured on Crimewatch.

Forces nationwide have joined the hunt for Farndon, who made what detectives believe was a planned escape as he arrived at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds for treatment.

Images taken from CCTV footage show a taxi arriving and then a gunman put his weapon to the head of a female guard who was forced to uncuff the prisoner.

A second image shows the prisoner and his ally running away from the hospital along a path that leads to a car park.

Anslow - who is charged with murder - escaped from a prison van on Monday after it was ambushed and attacked by three masked men armed with sledgehammers.

Detectives say several calls were received after Crimewatch featured photos of Anslow and the silver VW Scirocco used by the offenders who attacked the van.

Anslow, 31, from the Tipton area, is charged with the murder of Richard Deakin in Chasetown, Staffordshire, in July 2010. Another four men are also charged with the killing.

Staffordshire Police have offered a £10,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest and return to prison.

Detective Superintendent Martin Evans, who is overseeing the inquiry, said the TV appeal had prompted several calls which were now being chased up.

"Our dedicated team of detectives will now follow up these lines of inquiry. We'd already had over 60 calls from across the country prior to Crimewatch so the response from the public has been really encouraging," he said.

"We want to speak to anyone who knows where Anslow might be.

"There's obviously a possibility that he's travelled abroad or may be planning to do so. If this is the case, there will be people who know about it and we want to speak to them."

Farndon, 26, was sprung from the clutches of two prison guards on Wednesday night as they took him to hospital after he suffered what is thought to be a self-inflicted knife wound.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Bennett said searches in Suffolk were continuing but expressed doubt he was still in the country.

Police in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and the West Midlands have also issued appeals.

Mr Bennett added: "Along with other forces, we are pursuing various lines of inquiry, including contacting his family, friends and associates in the West Midlands.

"We are also studying CCTV and number-plate recognition records to try to identify the car which was used in the escape. Another line of inquiry is whether any mobile phones were used in the planning and execution of this escape.

"His prison cell has been searched and various items recovered. No blade was found in this search. The prison officers are still shaken and it was obviously a terrifying ordeal."

It is not the first time Farndon, who is serving time after he was found guilty of grievous bodily harm following a brutal hammer attack that left his victim with a fractured skull, has escaped custody.

He leapt from the dock at Coventry Crown Court during a court appearance in connection with the GBH charge and was on the run for a time.

Farndon was handed an indeterminate sentence for public protection in his absence and told he must serve at least two years before being eligible for parole.

He was also sentenced to 18 months for dangerous driving, 18 months for aggravated vehicle-taking, and banned from driving for two-and-a-half years.

Despite the serious offence, officials only classed him as a category C prisoner - meaning he was deemed unlikely to make a determined escape attempt.

A full prison service inquiry is set to be carried out.

There is no suggestion that Anslow's escape and Farndon's are connected.