HMP Pentonville escape: Prisoners used CCTV pole

James Whitlock and Matthew BakerImage copyright Met Police
Image caption James Whitlock (left) and Matthew Baker shared a cell at the prison

Two prisoners who escaped jail by sawing through a metal bar, clambering over roofs and swinging round a CCTV pole on a sheet have been sentenced.

Matthew Baker, 29, and James Whitlock, 32, went on the run in November after breaking out of HMP Pentonville.

Staff at the jail did not realise they had escaped for 15 hours.

The pair, who admitted breaking out of prison, were respectively handed 30 months and 24 months on top of their current terms.

Blackfriars Crown Court heard Baker had a string of convictions for violent offences including assaulting a police officer and is already serving a minimum term of 10 years.

Whitlock was serving 54 months for conspiracy to burgle.

Prosecuting, Jonathan Polnay, said the men were locked up together in cell G5-28 on G wing on 6 November 2016, just two weeks after another inmate was murdered..

“The following morning at around 11:00 GMT, officers went to unlock G5-28. The door had been barricaded from the inside.

“Eventually entry was gained. Neither Whitlock nor Baker were there.

“One of the bars to the cell had been cut open. Body-shaped items had been created under the sheets from clothes, bedding and food so that anyone looking through the observation hatch would have thought that both men were sleeping.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Victorian north London prison holds 1,200 inmates

Cutting tools were used to saw the cell bar and open an external window cover, the court heard.

The prosecutor said the cellmates must have had some outside help who smuggled in the kit.

The inmates made their escape across the roof of G wing and neighbouring roofs towards the front of the jail.

Mr Polnay said they tied a bed sheet to a CCTV camera pole and swung themselves over the perimeter wall, onto a flat roof at the car park.

Two days later, Baker was found hiding under a bed at his sister’s home in Ilford with dyed hair and a fractured leg.

Whitlock was found at an address in Homerton, east London, after six days on the run.

Baker’s girlfriend Chelsea Gibson, 25, of Bow, east London, pleaded guilty to assisting an offender while his sister Kelly Baker, 22, of Ilford, admitted harbouring an escaped prisoner.

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The women will be sentenced later.

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