Prison 'bungle' allowed dangerous criminal to escape

- Alleged mistakes made by Prison Service lead to sawn-off shotgun drama

- Three prison officers sue after trauma 

Press release

21st March 2012

Prison Service ‘bungle’ alleged to have caused armed prison escape of dangerous criminal

PRISON officers from Wormwood Scrubs have brought a claim against the prison service following a terrifying ordeal where a career criminal was sprung from their custody with the help of an armed accomplice.

The case, which is expected to take five days, is being heard at the High Court, The Strand, London this week.

The incident happened in January 2007 when convicted criminal Joe Farnan, who had already escaped from HMP Stanford 15 months earlier, faked an illness in order to gain access to Hammersmith Hospital.

An ambulance was called for Farnan. As soon as the ambulance containing Farnan and three prison officers arrived at the hospital, an armed man forced his way in the back of the vehicle and threatened to “blow the heads off” the officers unless they released the prisoner.  The pair then escaped to freedom.

Allegedly a series of blunders mean that Farnan, given his history of escaping, was not subject to the correct level of scrutiny as he should have been. Evidence that he was plotting to escape and had already performed a dummy run is alleged to have not been correctly communicated by prison chiefs. A basic medical examination should have revealed that Farnan was ‘swinging the lead’ but this did not occur according to the case prepared by solicitors Even the duty Governor was unaware of the risk Farnan posed because of poor communication in the system.

As a result, the prison officers were so severely traumatised they were unable to continue work and still have nightmares and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.  

Victoria Price, partner at Price & Slater, the law firm representing Ann Shalloe one of the prison officers, said:

“My client has been let down by the system that is supposed to protect her from dangerous career criminals like Farnan. She has lost her career and a job she loved apparently because of seriously bungled breaches to the procedures that should protect prison officers. We allege that the prison service failed in its duty to protect not only my client but also members of the public and that it is negligent on a wide number of points that would have prevented the incident from taking place.”



For further information, interviews and photography or details of the claims please contact

Peter Davies                                        -                              0161 927 3131 

Peter Davies


0161 927 3131