Daniel Abed Khalife prison escape

A chef’s outfit and a delivery van: Inside 21-year-old Daniel Abed Khalife’s prison escape

This is all very Paddington 2


So, in a national news development that feels like something out of Line of Duty, a 21-year-old called Daniel Abed Khalife – who was awaiting trial for alleged terrorism offences – has escaped from Wandsworth prison and the manic country-wide manhunt to find him has been going on for more than 24 hours. England is so hectic.

Obviously, the questions everyone wants answered are: (1) Is he dangerous? (no threat to the public, apparently) and (2) how the actual hell did he get out? Like, surely this can’t be normal. So as police scramble to find Daniel Abed Khalife hiding out somewhere in the UK, here’s exactly how he made his successful bid for freedom:

Daniel’s first disappearance: Monday, 2 January

You may or may not be surprised to learn that yesterday wasn’t the first time Daniel Abed Khalife went missing. He vanished from his army base in Stafford on 2 January following the accusations he’d created a hoax bomb in his army accommodation and “obtained information” he intended to give to an enemy. Officers had to make “active efforts to look for him” after the disappearance. But he was eventually arrested “in or near his car” on 26 January. Unsurprisingly, he was denied bail.

His big escape: Wednesday, 6 September – 7.15am

In a move that legitimately seems like it was inspired by the prison escape in Paddington 2, Daniel got out of HMP Wandsworth while on kitchen duty, dressed as a chef in red and white chequered trousers and brown steel cap boots. According to reports, he made makeshift straps and hung to the bottom of a food delivery truck, which carried him clean out of the prison’s gates.

A source told The Times staff knew Daniel was missing at 7am, but waited almost an hour to tell the police. According to HMP Wandsworth, prison managers told The Met “as soon as practically possible” but claimed they had to search other parts of the prison to check Daniel wasn’t there before launching a nationwide manhunt.

A source told The Times staff knew Daniel was missing at 7am, but waited almost an hour to tell the police. According to HMP Wandsworth, prison managers told The Met “as soon as practically possible” but claimed they had to search other parts of the prison to check Daniel wasn’t there before launching a nationwide manhunt.

They also added at HMP Wandsworth mirrors are supposed to be used to check the bottom of vehicles coming in and out of the prison because inmates have tried to escape on the underside of vans before. “If Khalife did escape using this method then the prison will have to account for this failure,” they alleged.

The manhunt aftermath: Thursday 7 September – 7am

After Daniel had made it out of HMP Wandsworth undetected and the nationwide manhunt had been launched by The Met, extra security staff were placed at the UK’s airports in case he tried to flee the country, the public were alerted a prisoner was on the loose, and a section of the M20 (which leads to a port) was closed down. Chaos.

The following day, MPs started to slam down on the Government, claiming they’d voiced worries about Wandsworth prison being understaffed months before Daniel’s “inevitable” escape actually happened. “I raised concerns with the Justice Secretary about the unsafe staffing levels and the unsanitary condition of Wandsworth Prison, last December. The Government sat on their hands,” Dr Rosena Allin-Khan wrote on Twitter. 

“I had concerns about staffing levels…months ago,” she explained to LBC. “I visited the prison. I put in serious questions and I understood that even last December there were only seven staff that turned up for 1,500 inmates. There should have been 13.”

And so, the hunt continues.

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