Daniel Khalife arrives at court charged with escaping Wandsworth prison after going on the run for four days
Captured alleged spy Daniel Khalife was swept into court today in an armoured police van where he is back in the dock charged over his audacious prison escape.
The 21-year-old former soldier will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today after he broke out of HMP Wandsworth last Wednesday.
Police closed the road as Khalife was sped into the court building followed by two unmarked patrol cars. Six Met officers guarded the gate.
He was arrested on Saturday following a 75-hour manhunt sparked after he escaped by clinging to the bottom of a food delivery lorry.
The 21-year-old former soldier was arrested on a canal towpath in west London at 10.41am on Saturday after being pulled off a bike by a plainclothes counter-terrorism officer.
British-born Khalife, who has Iranian and Lebanese heritage, was charged in January with breaching the Official Secrets Act and for an alleged bomb hoax at his barracks. Over the weekend he was charged with escaping HMP Wandsworth last Wednesday contrary to common law.
Scotland Yard was last night refocusing its efforts on piecing together Khalife’s four days on the run, including probing those who might have helped him escape or evade capture while at large.
Suspicions that Khalife relied on a network of support were fuelled after he was arrested wearing new clothes, carrying a Waitrose cool bag filled with food and travelling on a mountain bike. A former prisons minister said the terror suspect would have received some sort of ‘collusion and support’.
During the manhunt, a house in Richmond, south-west London, was raided by police after intercepted communications led them to believe Khalife may have been there, security sources told The Mail on Sunday.
Shortly after the raid, there were sightings less than three miles away in Chiswick. Khalife was detained as he cycled along a canal towpath in Greenford, west London.
Sources have also claimed that Khalife, who is accused of spying for Iran, had access to a mobile phone behind bars, raising the prospect that it may have been smuggled in by a visitor or a member of staff.
Officials have refused to comment on whether he had access to a phone, but Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said the escape was clearly planned. He told LBC: ‘It is a question. Did anyone inside the prison help him? Other prisoners, guard staff? Was he helped by people outside the walls or was it simply all of his own creation? This is really concerning.’
Two guards at HMP Wandsworth have been suspended following Khalife’s escape. It is understood both were involved in overseeing the exit of the Bidfood catering vehicle from the prison grounds.
It also emerged that Wandsworth’s head of security and safety is under investigation for alleged misconduct. Bobby Cunningham was suspended a few months ago.
Former prisons minister Rory Stewart told Sky News: ‘It seems clear if he had strapping underneath this vehicle, that there was some kind of collusion and support. But it’s also clear that they seemed to spend, I don’t know, half an hour [to] 45 minutes before they even noticed he was gone from the kitchen, and he shouldn’t be in the kitchen in the first place.’
- A Wandsworth inmate was in a critical condition in hospital last night after an ‘incident between prisoners’ led to a man being stabbed.