Bury St Edmunds: Prisoner in terrifying hospital escape jailed for six years
17:12 18 July 2013
A prisoner who was sprung from custody at West Suffolk Hospital by a former jail-mate in “terrifying circumstances”, was today jailed for six years.
Andrew Farndon, 27, had pleaded guilty to escaping from custody after fleeing from outside the Bury St Edmunds hospital in January last year.
His former cellmate Garry Cowan, 44, held a gun to a prison officer’s head during the incident and threatened to shoot her if Farndon was not released.
The pair, who had shared a cell at Highpoint jail in Stradishall had hatched a plot to free Farndon before Cowan was released two weeks earlier.
They were both later tracked down in Scotland and arrested.
Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, the Common Serjeant of London, sentenced Farndon to six years at the Old Bailey, saying: “The evidence that you escaped is overwhelming. There was no possible defence.”
The judge said the escape created “terrifying circumstances” for the prison officers present, adding: “You knew that one of your escorts was a female officer.
“They thought it was a real gun.
“She thought she was going to die.”
He said the fact it was not simply an escape from a prison building made it a “more serious” matter.
He pointed out that although Farndon may not have known Cowan was to use an imitation firearm until the last minute, he would have been aware that there was the possibility of the “use or threat of force”.
The judge also said the whole incident would have required a “considerable amount of planning”.
Farndon was serving an indefinite jail term for smashing a motorist’s head with a claw hammer and baseball bat.
Farndon’s barrister Stephen Shay said: “He is genuinely remorseful about the ordeal he put these prison officers through.”
High security Ashworth Hospital near Liverpool - where Moors Murderer Ian Brady is held - indicated it is not prepared to accommodate him.
The judge said this left Farndon “in limbo” of sorts, and said he may well be transferred to hospital under the Mental Health Act at some stage.
Cowan and Farndon were convicted over the escape last December but their sentencing was delayed by a series of doctors’ reports into Farndon’s sanity.
While on the run, Farndon assaulted two police officers and tried to hijack two police cars.
He was arrested and in May this year jailed in Glasgow for six years. Today’s sentence will run concurrently.
Cowan, who has committed almost 500 offences, was sentenced to 10 years last month.