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The BBC's Vicki Young
"Despite the arrest, police insist the manhunt is continuing"
 real 56k

The BBC's Ben Brown
"Police are still stressing the manhunt is still in full swing"
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Harry Mawdsley, Magistrates' Association
"We've got to have much tighter controls"
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Friday, 4 August, 2000, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Court breakout car found
Ricky Loveridge and Richard Hurley escaped from the court
Loveridge (left) and Hurley escaped from the court
Forensic expert are examining the car detectives believe was used as a getaway vehicle by gunmen who burst into a courtroom and snatched two prisoners from the dock.

Two defendants escaped from Slough Magistrates Court when a gang brandishing a sawn-off shotgun and a handgun ran in and fired shots into the ceiling.

It was absolute madness. It was like a scene from a film

Eyewitness Majinda Singh
The remand prisoners freed - Ricky Loveridge, 22, and Richard Hurley, 19 - were appearing on charges of conspiracy to burgle and rob.

The suspected getaway car, a silver Subaru Impreza, was spotted by a member of the public on the Surrey/Berkshire border on Thursday night.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman refused to give the exact location of the four-wheel drive car for "very sensitive operational reasons".

Detectives are continuing to question a 22-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large following Thursday's raid.

The incident has prompted the chairman of the Magistrates' Association, Harry Mawdesley, to call for an immediate review of security in all magistrates courts.

Masked men

The crime was described by police as more fitting to New York than Berkshire.

Court officials and members of the public dived for cover when the gang burst in and fired several shots into the ceiling at around 1240 BST.

One policeman who tried to stop the escape was injured when he was hit over the head with the butt of a gun, but no-one else was hurt.

A third man in the dock remained where he was as his co-accused fled.

Police said the gunmen were clad in balaclavas and fluorescent jackets, similar to those worn by traffic police.

The court was shut while a full forensic examination was carried out by scene-of-crime officers.

Gun fired

Slough magistrates court
Security at the courthouse is being reviewed
Superintendent Brian Langton, of Thames Valley Police, said: "Our priority is to reassure the public and capture these men."

After the breakout, a relative of Mr Loveridge pleaded with him to turn himself in to police.

"He's not really that way inclined," said his uncle, who would not give his name.

David Cook, finance director for Premier Custodial Group, which is in charge of dock security at the court, said an internal inquiry into the raid was already underway.

"I am aware of the incident, but I do not have any further details of it," he said.

"I would not want to circumvent the internal inquiry which is already underway. It is a terrible incident.

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