Police hunting for fugitive killer release CCTV images of escape

Merseyside police urge witnesses to come forward as footage shows accomplices aiding Shaun Walmsley’s getaway

Detectives hunting for a fugitive killer have released CCTV images showing the armed assailants who aided his escape during a hospital visit.

Shaun Walmsley, who has now been on the run for more than two days, was freed when two men armed with a gun and a knife ambushed prison guards outside Aintree hospital in Liverpool at 3.05pm on Tuesday.

Merseyside police have released two CCTV stills showing Walmsley standing between two parked cars in a huddle with his hooded accomplices.

The images of the hospital car park also show a nearby pedestrian, who police have urged to come forward.

CCTV images of the escape of Shaun Walmsley. We encourage witnesses who were at the hospital to come forward. https://t.co/dt7HMRnicf pic.twitter.com/AmmoBqopYl

— Merseyside Police (@MerseyPolice) February 23, 2017

Walmsley, a drug dealer who ran a nationwide crime network, was serving a life sentence with a minimum of 30 years at HMP Liverpool for the murder in May 2014 of Anthony Duffy, who was lured to a street near Aintree racecourse and repeatedly stabbed.

Police later arrested a 27-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman at a property in Norris Green in connection with Walmsley’s escape.

Det Supt Natalie Perischine said: “The CCTV shows that the people involved in the actual incident were in a very close huddle and we know that although a gun and knife were used by the offenders, they were not blatantly on show to other people walking by.

“One pedestrian is wearing a particularly distinctive tartan/checked jacket. These witnesses may not have realised what was going on.

“They may have thought it looked a bit odd, but probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it.”

She added: “I would like to reiterate that Shaun Walmsley, and the two others involved in the incident, are dangerous individuals and we will be relentless in our pursuit of them.

“We are determined to find Walmsley and put him back behind bars. And we are also committed to finding the offenders who helped him escape, or anyone who may be harbouring him, so that we can put them before the courts.”

There are growing demands for a wide-ranging security review after police revealed that the gangland killer, described as “highly dangerous”, was taken on a scheduled hospital visit in a minicab.

Shaun Walmsley
Shaun Walmsley was sentenced for murder along with three other men in June 2015. Photograph: Merseyside Police/PA

On the second day of the hunt for the 38-year-old, Merseyside police alerted international partners that he may have tried to flee abroad.

It is understood that Walmsley planned to escape to Amsterdam after the murder of Duffy three years ago.

Walmsley was getting into a minicab with three prison guards when he was freed by men who threatened the guards with a gun and knife. Neither guard was seriously hurt as Walmsley escaped with the attackers in a gold-coloured Volvo.

The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said he had asked the home secretary, Amber Rudd, to review security arrangements around category A prisoners making scheduled hospital visits.

In a letter to Rudd, Anderson said: “I am appalled that during a period of heightened tensions in the city, which has resulted in two gangland executions carried out in public in the last three weeks, that a major gangland figure was gifted the opportunity to abscond in the manner he did.

“I can only speculate what sort of activity will follow within the criminal underworld now that this individual is at large but I will not be surprised if those tensions are escalated even further.”

Category A prisoners are defined as “those whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public or national security”.

They are further separated into standard risk, high risk, and exceptional risk, depending on how likely they are to try to escape.

Walmsley was sentenced for murder along with three other men in June 2015. The judge in the trial, Clement Goldstone QC, said Walmsley and one of his accomplices, Christopher Kenny, considered themselves untouchable, adding that the gang arranged to have Duffy “delivered up as their prey”.

The gold-coloured Volvo car used to spring Walmsley.
The gold-coloured Volvo car used in the escape. Photograph: Merseyside police/PA

After the sentencing, police said Walmsley and his accomplices had neither shown any emotion nor expressed any remorse for their crime.

In his sentencing remarks, the judge told the men: “This was a murder committed to enforce your self-perceived position of drug dealers of importance in Liverpool.”

The court heard that Duffy suffered 28 wounds during the attack. One witness told the jury that “two men appeared and one of them started stabbing him”. He said: “One just pulled a knife out and started stabbing.”

Merseyside police described the gunman who assisted in Walmsley’s escape as having his face covered and wearing white shoes, grey tracksuit bottoms with a stripe down each side, a grey hoodie and a dark coat.

The man armed with a knife had his face covered and wore a green coat, dark Nike trainers and grey tracksuit bottoms.

Officers said Walmsley is about 6ft tall and of slim build with dark brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing dark bottoms and a dark jacket.


Jamie Grierson and Josh Halliday

The GuardianTramp

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