In the Media

Prisoner covered escape attempt signs with papier-m?ch?, court told

PUBLISHED March 8, 2012

Simeon Langford made his own tools to chisel mortar from walls in Exeter prison but was caught when brick dust was seen

A prisoner who dug through a 5ft (1.5metre)-thick wall using plastic forks and covered his tracks by filling the hole with papier-m?ch? was caught when brick dust was seen on the ground.

Simeon Langford made his own tools from screws removed from the desk in his cell, taping them to plastic forks, and spent weeks chiselling the mortar from the wall.

He tried to fool officers at Exeter prison with his own papier-m?ch? mix, which he used to cover up the ever-growing hole in the wall of his cell. The escape attempt was only foiled when an officer inspecting the yard of the Victorian prison spotted a pile of dust and debris beneath his window.

Langford was being held on remand after attacking three warders at another prison four days before he had been due to be released from an earlier sentence. He has only been out of jail for two months since he was 20 because he keeps attacking prison officers while serving sentences.

The 28-year-old, of Bristol, admitted attempted escape, three assaults causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage.

Judge Erik Salomonsen jailed him for 39 months, telling him: "There was a routine inspection and brick dust was found beneath the outside wall ? and after a search of your room, officers found plastic cutlery with screws attached, sheets, and paint.

"You had concealed what you were doing with papier-m?ch?. This was an ingenious and inventive attempt, but was doomed to failure.

"You must remain in custody because the public must know, and prison officers must know, that if a serving prisoner commits assault against them, the inevitable sentence is imprisonment."

Langford, who has a daughter, replied from the dock: "Thank you for your understanding. I will try to serve my term and get out of jail so I can be a father to my kid. I hope I don't get beaten up too often."

Howard Phillips, prosecuting, said Langford was close to release from Channings Wood prison, in Devon, in December 2010 when he wrecked his cell after being told he would have to wait for a requested meeting with the governor.

He then armed himself with a chair leg and attacked the three officers sent in to restrain him, using the leg like a baseball bat, hitting one officer on the helmet, throttling him and biting him and hitting the others on the back or arms.

He was transferred to Exeter prison in January 2011, and in the 22 days he was held there he broke through the inner and outer skins of the brick wall.

Phillips said: "It was quite an ingenious and determined attempt to escape. He was in the old Victorian part of the prison, which has a two-skin wall with relatively soft mortar.

"He dismantled a table in his cell and used screws from it and plastic cutlery to break up the mortar.

"He got through the first wall and started breaking through the second. He disguised this from officers by covering the hole with papier-m?ch? and painting it so it looked perfectly normal.

"He was caught after a maintenance officer found brick dust under his window and a search was made of his cell where it was found the paint on the wall was still wet.

"It appears that even if he had broken through the wall he would have been rather short of a barbed wire fence outside and the perimeter wall beyond that."

Julia Farrant, defending, said Langford's escape attempt was bound to fail because, even if he had got through the wall, he could not have got any further. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds