THREE prisoners escaped from a high security prison using homemade tools in Britain’s most shocking jail break.
Keith Rose, Andrew Rodger and Matthew Williams a used a master key, a homemade gun and set of ladders to break out of HMP Parkhurst in January 1995.
The cons fashioned their escape kit during design technology classes at the jail on the Isle of Wight and smugged them in their cells.
After breaking out of the category-A nick, the three lags hiked ten miles to a private airport between Sandown and Shankhill.
Rose was also a trained pilot and planned to steal a plane and fly to freedom.
They found a Cessna 105 locked up in the main hangar with room for just a pilot and passenger.
Rose tried to hot wire the plane but could not get it to start after their home made key broke off in the ignition.
The men went in search of shelter from the cold and rain, and ended up walking down a main road in full sight of others.
An off-duty prison warden, Colin Jones, recognised Williams, who had been jailed for bombings and arson.
He raised the alarm, flooding the streets with police and prison officers.
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Rose and Rodger gave themselves up, but Williams refused to do so.
PC Tony Woolcock and his dog, Bongo eventually tracked down Williams as he tried to swim across River Medina at the Island Harbour marina.
Former prison officer Phil Currie, who was on duty at Parkhurst on the night of the escape, remembered Williams as a “nutty professor.”
Speaking to podcaster James English he said: “He was very intelligent like a nutty professor. Not many of the other prisoners had much to do with him. He was just a weird character.”
Williams had tried to take a prison officer hostage while on route to Parkhurst.
Mr Currie explained how the lag had held a needle to the officer’s throat, but was overpowered by officers on arrival at the jail.
While Williams was regarded as weird – Rodger was one of the most feared men in Parkhurst.
Mr Currie believes Rodger was selected for the escape mission because of his physical strength.
The veteran prison officer said he had once seen the lag rip a jail house door off its hinges.
He said: “Andy had that power that would helped them get through the fence.”
He explained how the three men were in the prison’s sports hall on the night of their escape, but then decided to leave because they wanted to have dinner.
Mr Currie – who trained with notorious lag Charles Bronson in Parkhurst – said there was a “catastrophe of errors” which led up to their escape.
He said: “After they left we had a second gym class. So it was not for another hour and a half that we realised something was wrong.
“A dog handler found a hole in the fence. By then they had an hour and a half on us.”
The former officer said that if the men had gone straight for the ferry they would have been able to leave the island.
Mr Currie said that he later met up with Rodger who told him about the attempt to leave in a plane flown by Rose.
Rodger said to him: “To be honest I wanted to f****** kill him. He could not even start the plane.
Mr Currie was there was a massive investigation into the escape which sent “shock waves across the prison service.”
He said that officers were questioned to establish if they had prior knowledge of the escape.
Mr Currie said that two years before the attempt a prisoner named Puter had successfully escaped from the island.
He said: “He got out in the back of bin or laundry wagon. But it was kept quiet.”
He said that Rose, Rodger and Williams later stood trial in the London area.
Mr Currie, who worked at HMP Parkhurst, told podcaster James English that he bonded with notorious inmate Charles Bronson over a shared love of training in the prison’s gym.
He said: “I liked him you know. I shouldn’t really say that.
“In the dealings I had, I found him a character and because we had that same love for training because he did, he just loved training.
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“I got on quite well with him. I talked to him about his artwork and bits and bobs.”