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Khalife in court today
Penalty for escape is further detention
Daniel Khalife has been charged with escaping from Wandsworth prison last week and will appear at Westminster magistrates’ court today. A district judge is expected to send him to the Crown Court for trial. In the meantime, Khalife, 21, will be remanded in custody.
Escape is a common-law offence: it was developed by the judges rather than created by parliament. It follows that the maximum penalty is life imprisonment, although those convicted of escape invariably receive a lesser sentence.
A person who, being in lawful custody either in prison or elsewhere on a criminal charge, escapes without the use of force commits the common law offence of escape.
If any breaking, cutting or forcing is used by the prisoner, the common-law offence of breaking prison or prison breach may be charged instead.
These offences are separate from — and independent of — the charges on which a suspect was detained in the first place. Provided the individual was lawfully remanded in custody while awaiting trial, he or she may be convicted of escape whatever the outcome of that trial.
Khalife is accused of trying to spy for an enemy state, understood to be Iran; obtaining information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism; and plotting a fake bomb hoax. He pleaded not guilty to these charges at a hearing in July.
Assisting an escape
It’s an offence under the Prison Act 1952, as amended, to help a prisoner escape. The offence can be committed by anyone who leaves “anything in any place” intending to facilitate the escape of a prisoner. The place can be “inside or outside a prison” — so it would presumably include leaving straps or other equipment on the underside of a delivery vehicle. The maximum penalty for assisting an escape is 10 years’ imprisonment.
Scotland Yard reportedly said on Saturday that Khalife had been arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large and escaping from lawful custody.
In fact, the offence of being unlawfully at large applies to prisoners who have been temporarily released and fail to return to prison when required to do so.
While awaiting trial on the escape charge, Khalife can expect to be held in a category A prison such as HMP Belmarsh.
These are high security prisons, the Ministry of Justice says. “They house male prisoners who, if they were to escape, pose the most threat to the public, the police or national security.”
The justice secretary Alex Chalk said yesterday that about 40 inmates had now been moved from Wandsworth prison — where Khalife had previously been held — “out of an abundance of caution”.
Justice for Ukraine
Chalk is visiting Riga today for a Council of Europe justice ministers meeting. He will join other ministers to discuss rebuilding the Ukrainian justice system, supporting vulnerable children and holding war criminals to account. Latvia currently chairs the Council of Europe’s committee of ministers.
The Ministry of Justice said:
Sessions will explore the repatriation of Ukrainian children from Russia and steps the Council of Europe can take to support families being reunited, for example by setting up a central reporting system for missing children and coordinated data collection.
Discussions will also focus on international mechanisms to secure justice for atrocities committed in Ukraine and repairing the damage caused by the Russian invasion.
This follows decisions taken at the Reykjavik summit in May, attended by the prime minister, to create a register of damage for Ukraine as a significant first step in their efforts to seek justice. The UK has a central role as chair of the register’s conference of participants.
But representatives of other justice departments may question the UK government’s commitment to the Council of Europe in the light of comments made last month by the Home Office immigration minister.
Robert Jenrick said the government would do “whatever is required” to tackle the problem of small boats crossing the English Channel — even if that meant pulling out of the European Convention on Human Rights.
No country has been admitted to the Council of Europe without first signing the human rights convention and it is widely believed that the UK would be expelled from the 46-member group if it ever left the convention.
Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre
The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday that the police operation to recapture Khalife was coordinated by the Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre, “a multi-million-pound nerve centre at a classified location in west London”.
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