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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 June, 2003, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Prisoners escape in armed hijack
Clifford Hobbs and Noel Cunningham
Clifford Hobbs and Noel Cunningham are on the run
Two "extremely dangerous" prisoners are on the run after an armed hijack in south London.

Three prisoners escaped when two men, one disguised as a postman, stopped a Securicor van shooting the driver in the knee and hitting a security guard with a gun.

However, one of the fugitives who fled from the van, Tony Peters, surrendered to police on Tuesday afternoon.

The other two prisoners have been named as Clifford Hobbs, 43, and Noel Cunningham, 41, both from Rotherhithe, south-east London.

The attack took place at 0910 BST on Tuesday outside Inner London Crown Court, near Elephant and Castle in Southwark.

Mr Cunningham and Mr Hobbs are charged with conspiracy to steal 1.25m from a Securicor van in Brixton, south London, on 13 March this year.

Police at the scene
I saw the guard rolling about on the ground covered in blood
Eyewitness Joey Bond

The men were being transported from Brixton Prison in Lambeth when they escaped.

Detective Superintendent Mick Allen, of the Serious Crime Directorate, said: "I must stress they are extremely dangerous.

"I have no doubt that if Hobbs and Cunningham want access to firearms, they could get access to firearms.

"Anyone who hijacks someone in a vehicle and shoots a guard and then takes two or three prisoners from the back, I would say is extremely audacious.

"It would appear to me that this was a sophisticated, organised escape and the gunmen knew exactly who they were going for."

Seven other prisoners who were inside the van did not try to escape and were taken into the court for their own safety.

Deputy court manager Sue Adams said all custody cases listed at the court for Tuesday had been adjourned.

Map showing Inner London Crown Court
The hijack took place outside Inner London crown Court

A van which was transporting another prisoner, who was due to face charges alongside Mr Cunningham and Mr Hobbs, turned back after being alerted about the escape.

Witness, Joey Bond, 24, was on his way to the Jobcentre, when the attack happened.

He said: "It was all over in a couple of seconds or minutes.

"I saw two men running away and as I turned to look I saw another one being held by the guard.

'I was so frightened'

"When I heard the noise of the gun I was so frightened I ran off, but then I came back later and I saw the guard rolling about on the ground covered in blood.

"I'm a bit shook up now. You just don't expect this kind of thing to happen."

The van driver has undergone surgery and the guard was also taken to hospital and later discharged.

An investigation has been launched by the Prison Service and Securicor.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"This was clearly meticulously planned"



SEE ALSO:
'Dangerous' prisoners escape court
08 May 03  |  Northern Ireland
Escaped prisoner shot in leg
18 Apr 03  |  Southern Counties


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