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Daniel Khalife ‘may have used bedsheets to escape prison’, court hears

A terror suspect may have used bedsheets to break out of Wandsworth prison, it was revealed as he appeared in court for the first time amid high security.

Daniel Khalife, 21, was arrested on a canal towpath in Northolt, west London, on Saturday.

Khalife, a former soldier in the British army, was being held at HMP Wandsworth as he awaits a trial on terrorism charges.

But he is said to have escaped while strapped to the underside of a food delivery truck which was visiting the category B men’s prison in southwest London.

Outlining the allegation, prosecutor Thomas Williams said: “On the morning of September 6, the prison notified the police that Khalife was missing. He had been working in the kitchen.

“The suspicion was he escaped under a food delivery truck which had recently left the loading bay.”

He said Khalife is suspected of using “makeshift straps” which “may have been from bed sheets” to attach himself to the Bidfood truck, and he had disappeared when police stopped the vehicle a short time later.

A court sketch of Daniel Khalife and the makeshift straps he is alleged to have used (ES Composite)
A court sketch of Daniel Khalife and the makeshift straps he is alleged to have used (ES Composite)

The court heard he had a bag with cash and a mobile phone when he was arrested, and Khalife told officers he had been to Richmond Park and Chiswick.

“He said the lorry driver had no idea what he was doing”, added Mr Williams.

Khalife, listed in court as having no fixed address, was charged on Sunday with escaping from prison and appeared in the dock at Westminster magistrates court on Monday morning.

Khalife, wearing prison-issue grey clothes, was flanked by two police officers in full uniform and a court guard as he stood in the locked dock for a brief hearing in front of Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram.

Three further police officers sat in the well of the court, while another court guard was stationed at the door of the courtroom.

He is accused with escaping from lawful custody on September 6. The charge reads: “Being in lawful custody on a criminal charge, escaped from the said custody.”

Khalife watched on impassively during the eight-minute hearing, as he was remanded back into custody. He spoke only to identify himself, and did not indicate a plea to the charge.

Khalife arrived at the central London courthouse in a secure Metropolitan Police van just after 9am, followed by a convoy of unmarked police cars while uniformed officers lined the entrance to the court on foot.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Judge Ikram refused an application for Khalife to be handcuffed in the dock, after guards offered no reason for the extra security measure.

He sent the case to the Old Bailey, with the next hearing provisionally set for September 29.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has ordered an investigation into HMP Wandsworth in the wake of Khalife’s disappearance.

The cabinet minister on Sunday revealed that dozens of inmates have been moved out of the Victorian prison to another jail as the alleged prison break is investigated.

Jail bosses are under intense scrutiny and faced a fresh crisis when a 24-year-old prisoner was stabbed and rushed to hospital yesterday afternoon.

The former serviceman, who was stationed at Beacon Barracks, in Stafford, has been charged with a terrorism offence, perpetrating a bomb hoax, and an offence under the Official Secrets Act.

The charges date from May 2019 to January 2022.

It is said he elicited or tried to elicit information that could be useful for a terrorist on August 2 2021, and breaching the Official Secrets Act by gathering information that could be useful to an enemy.

Khalife is also accused of placing “three canisters with wires on a desk in his accommodation” with the intention of inducing in another a belief this was “likely to explode or ignite and thereby cause personal injury or damage to property”.

He has entered not guilty pleas and is due to stand trial in November at Woolwich crown court.