Trial collapses after men escape
The trial of an alleged criminal gang which used guns and grenades to intimidate its rivals has collapsed after two defendants escaped from a prison van.
Kirk Bradley and Tony Downes were being taken to Liverpool Crown Court when the security van they were in was targeted in a daring morning rush-hour raid.
The van was attacked in Trinity Way, on the edge of Manchester city centre, shortly after 8.30am on Monday.
Judge Henry Globe QC, the Recorder of Liverpool, discharged a jury of seven women and five men following a 10-week trial.
He took the step after asking if jurors could "ignore" Monday's events and consider the case only on the evidence they had heard.
Judge Globe said: "In other words, an insufficient number of you have been able to confirm that you will be able to ignore the events of Bradley and Downes' escape from the prison van last Monday."
He added: "The events of last Monday are extremely rare and were very unexpected and their impact cannot be underestimated.
"The fact of this decision is that the trial simply cannot continue."
Before being discharged the jury was told that Bradley and Downes remained "at large" and that it was not known whether the armed men who sprung them from the prison van were "friends or enemies" or if they went "willingly or unwillingly".
Police issued photos of the two men on Monday but members of the public were warned not to approach the pair if they are spotted and instead to call police.