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TV appeal for prisoner escape clues

Police are hoping a TV appeal will lead more people to come forward with information on a murder suspect who escaped from a prison van.

The appeal for help to trace category A prisoner John Anslow will feature on the BBC1 programme Crimewatch on Thursday night.

Anslow, described by police as "extremely dangerous", escaped when the prison van was ambushed by three masked men on Monday. They smashed the windows of the GEO Amey prison escort van with sledgehammers and punched the driver, who was taking inmates from Hewell Prison in Redditch, Worcestershire, to Stafford Crown Court at around 8.20am.

It comes as police hunt a second prisoner, Andrew Farndon, from Highpoint Prison in Stradishall, near Newmarket, who has gone on the run after a gunman helped to spring him from prison officers who had taken him for treatment at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday. Staffordshire Police said the two incidents are not thought to be linked.

Anslow, who is from the Tipton area, is himself at the centre of an international manhunt and a £10,000 reward has been offered by Staffordshire Police for information leading to his capture. The prisoner, also known as Skitz, is known to have strong connections across the country, including London, as well as overseas, police have said.

A 44-year-old man arrested by officers who searched properties in the Tipton area on Monday night on suspicion of assisting an offender was on Wednesday released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Anslow was one of five men charged last week with the murder of 27-year-old businessman Richard Deakin, who was shot dead while alone in his home in Chasetown, Staffordshire, in July 2010.

He is described as white, 5ft 10in, of medium build with short, straight, dark brown hair. Police have said he should not be approached and that people should call 999 immediately if they see him.

Detective Superintendent Martin Evans, who is leading the inquiry, said: "Our dedicated team of detectives are working closely with colleagues at West Midlands and West Mercia police forces as we continue to follow numerous lines of inquiry. We're hoping that tonight's Crimewatch appeal will prompt further people to come forward with information."

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has ordered an inquiry into how Anslow was able to escape from the prison van.

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