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Prisoner escapes on hospital trip

A prisoner serving an indeterminate sentence for the protection of the public Is on the run after two prison officers were threatened at gunpoint.

Andrew Farndon, 26, was rumoured to have cut himself badly enough to be taken for treatment at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where he was sprung by a waiting gunman.

Farndon previously escaped by leaping from the dock at Coventry Crown Court in 2007, but was sentenced in his absence to an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP) and told he must serve at least two years before being considered for parole.

He was found guilty of grievous bodily harm after a hammer attack that left his victim with a fractured skull. But Farndon was a category C prisoner, which means he was deemed unlikely to make a determined escape attempt.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has urged MPs to scrap the indeterminate sentences, saying they had not worked properly since they were introduced under the Labour government in 2003, leaving thousands in prison beyond normal guidelines.

The IPP "experiment" left prisoners in a "Catch 22" situation, with no way of showing they were a "minimal risk to society", which they must do before they can be released, from behind bars, he told MPs last year. But critics warned that scrapping IPPs would take a weapon out of judges' armoury.

Suffolk Police said officers were contacted just after 6.50pm by staff at the hospital's A&E department who reported they could see a man with a gun outside. The prison officers, from Highpoint prison in Stradishall, near Newmarket, called police moments later and said they had had a gun pulled on them by a man who had confronted them as they had arrived at the hospital.

Both the prisoner and the man with the gun then ran away across the car park.

Farndon is described as white with a shaved head, and was wearing a dark blue baseball cap and a light coloured jumper that was padded on the right side due to his injury. The man with the gun is described as white, in his mid 40s, around 5ft 8ins tall and of stocky build. He possibly had a Scottish accent and was wearing a white top and blue jeans.

It is thought they may have escaped in a dark coloured car.

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