CCTV shows van leaving prison with no signs of fugitive under it

Police lock down Richmond Park in hunt for fugitive ‘Iran spy’: Ex-Brit soldier Daniel Khalife, 21, ‘may have burns on his face’ after clinging to underside of van in escape from Wandsworth Prison

  • The former British Army soldier escaped from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday 

CCTV footage has shown the van which Daniel Khalife clung to in his audacious escape just 200 yards from prison, with no sign of the fugitive terror suspect underneath.

Police chiefs are growing increasingly concerned that the ex-British Army soldier must have planned his audacious jailbreak from HMP Wandsworth as the hunt to track him down continues.

The 21-year-old was described as a ‘model soldier’ with 16 Signal Regiment, whose motto is Find A Way Or Make One.

It come amid claims that he may have strapped himself to the underside of the truck by fashioning straps out of the plastic covering on his cell mattress. 

The search for Khalife, who vanished on Wednesday, stepped up this morning as police were seen scouring Richmond Park amid suggestions he could be using his army training to hide out there.

At the same time, questions continue to grow over how the suspected terrorist, who is alleged to have spied for Iran, was able to flee the Category B prison, where there have long been concerns over security.

CCTV footage has shown the van which Daniel Khalife clung to in his audacious escape just 200 yards from prison, with no sign of the fugitive terror suspect underneath

Daniel Khalife (pictured), a former soldier in the 22 Signal Regiment, was on remand at HMP Wandsworth ahead of his six-week terror trial

An inmate who worked with Khalife in the jail kitchen revealed how they used to joke about jumping in a delivery lorry and driving off.

And another former prisoner revealed how staff were so overstretched they even asked him to help lead the roll call of inmates on his wing.

READ MORE: Police comb Richmond Park in hunt for fugitive terror suspect 

Fresh CCTV footage today shows the Bidfood lorry which Khalife used for his escape driving down a residential street just 200 yards from the jail.

There is no sight of the fugitive in the images, suggesting that he may have leapt off the vehicle immediately after it left the prison gates.

Scotland Yard revealed last night there was 65 minutes between it leaving the prison and being stopped and searched by police, meaning a huge number of possible places where Khalife might have slipped away. 

As investigators worked to unravel how he managed to pull off a Colditz-style breakout in broad daylight, more details emerged of the audacious escape.

Khalife, who police suspect used his military training to carefully plan his escape, began Wednesday morning by helping to prepare breakfast at the Victorian jail.

Them Met Police admitted that Khalife’s ‘previous military experience’ may make him harder to catch, as he is likely ‘more aware of efforts to apprehend him.’

He turned up for duty dressed in his chef’s uniform of a white T-shirt, distinctive red and white chequered trousers and brown steel-toe boots. 

How many other prisoners have escaped HMP Wandsworth and what is the jail like?

In 1965, Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs escaped with three others by scaling HMP Wandsworth’s 30-ft perimeter wall after they were allowed out to exercise.

Prison guards, obstructed by other inmates who were still exercising, watched on helplessly during the daring prison break.

Biggs went on to be a fugitive for 36 years, living in Australia and Brazil before flying back to the UK in 2001 and being put behind bars again.

In 2003, Eamon Donaghue ditched his prison clothes for a prison officer’s uniform he found while cleaning the officers’ mess hall. 

Fraudster Neil Moore was on remand in the Category B prison when he managed to get out in 2015 by posting a letter to wardens pretending it was from the court service. 

He told clueless wardens that he had been granted bail, and was free to walk out. 

He later had a ‘change of heart’ and surrendered himself after ‘three or four days.’

And most recently, in 2019, a prisoner was wrongly released by Wandsworth staff just six days into a six-week sentence. 

Wandsworth has seen at least six inmates break out over the years – including Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs

HMP Wandsworth, a Category B prison in southwest London, is one of the UK’s largest. 

It was built in 1851 as the ‘Surrey House of Correction.’

In 2022, its wardens were heavily criticised in a damning report that claimed the prison was plagued by overcrowding and violence. 

The report noted that prisoners were left in ‘very poor conditions’ surrounded by ‘piles of litter’ in ‘dirty, graffiti covered cells.’

Until as recently as 1996, inmates were forced to clean up their own excrement every morning in a process call ‘slopping out.’

Notable current and former inmates include:

  • German tennis star Boris Becker 
  • Boxer and artist Charles Bronson 
  • David Chaytor, the first MP to be convicted for his role in the parliamentary expenses scandal 
  • Drill artist Digga D
  • Paedophiles Gary Glitter and Rolf Harris
  • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
  • Gangster Ronnie Kray 
  • Great Train Robbery culprit Ronnie Biggs 

After serving breakfast to inmates and guards, he slipped out of the kitchen carrying makeshift strapping of some kind, which police have declined to describe in more detail. 

In the yard outside the kitchen building, a lorry from the wholesaler Bidfood was making a routine delivery of groceries.

When no one was looking, Khalife ducked under the sidebars of the lorry and positioned himself precariously beneath the truck’s underbelly, using the strapping to support his weight.

At around 7.30am, with the driver blissfully unaware of the stowaway, the Bidfood lorry was driven 250 yards along the road running along the inside of the 30ft perimeter wall famously scaled by Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs in 1965. Two internal security gates had to be opened to let it pass.

At 7.32am, the lorry carrying the former Royal Signals soldier rolled through the prison’s imposing Victorian gate into the open. 

It was waved past guards and CCTV cameras with another cursory inspection, with no one thinking to check underneath at any of the three security checks.

As Khalife clung on, just inches from the wheels and the spinning drive shaft, the lorry turned right on to residential Heathfield Road, then left, then left again on to the busy triple-laned A214.

Police have stressed there is no suspicion about Bidfood or its driver, and said they had been co-operating fully.

Officers either do not know or have not said at what point Khalife decided to leave his escape vehicle, or what he did next. 

But the truck embarked on a near four-mile route through Wandsworth Town and on to the South Circular A205 road heading west towards Putney.

Khalife had an 18-minute head-start before anyone even noticed his absence. He was declared missing at 7.50am, and prison officers launched an urgent search, but it was a further 25 minutes before the police were called at 8.15am – by now a full 43 minutes after he had sprung himself.

Metropolitan Police cars descended on the area, while the lorry driver was called by his company and ordered to turn around and return to the prison.

On a busy high street close to East Putney station, officers swooped on the Bidfood truck at 8.37am outside a coffee shop.

A business owner who witnessed the operation told the Mail: ‘The police were searching inside the van, underneath it, on the roof, in the cab, everywhere. 

‘At first there was one unmarked, black police car, then a van and about five police cars. They were using two dogs to search it, one inside and one underneath.’ 

He said the search lasted for two hours.

Scotland Yard Commander Dominic Murphy said last night: ‘We searched it, but we found no trace of him. But we did find strapping that meant he had been underneath.’ 

Officers were keeping an open mind as to whether Khalife was helped by accomplices, but Mr Murphy cited the fugitive’s ‘ingenuity’ and said: ‘We have some of the best military in world and he was a trained soldier.’ 

He said police officers believed Khalife – a ‘very resourceful individual’ – would have needed to plan his escape, rather than it being opportunistic.

Police refused to confirm or deny if they had recovered potentially useful CCTV during their trawl, but said there had been no sightings by members of the public, despite it being ‘a busy area of London’. 

It prompted speculation as to whether the fugitive could have arranged to be picked up by an accomplice in another vehicle.

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