Prison Break

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Unknown Checking the news headlines before I left for a few days’ break on the Isle of Wight, I was interested to read that an inmate of Parkhurst was discovered to have plans for escape. I always forget that the infamous Victorian prison is on the Island, even though I’ve driven past it many times. HMP Parkhurst opened its reinforced doors for the first time in 1805 as a military hospital and became a prison in 1863, originally for young offenders. For most of its history it has been a maximum security prison, with a notorious reputation for being one of the toughest prisons in the UK, with infamous inmates, such as Peter Sutcliffe, Ian Brady and the Kray Twins. In the 19th century, the regime at Parkhurst was particularly harsh. During its early years, prisoners were forced to spend the first month of their incarceration sleeping on bare boards. Hard labour included making hammocks, fenders and nets for the navy, and coir beds for the army. In 1887, at the end of his long, and violent, criminal career, Detective Caminada’s arch rival, Bob Horridge, was admitted to Parkhurst after the attempted murder of two police officers.   Image 6a   Before his life sentence, inveterate burglar Bob Horridge had spent almost 17 years in prison. Apart from a number of short sentences, he had endured a long stretch in Pentonville Prison. Due to his previous convictions, he had been sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude for burglary, and as he was being transported to London by rail, the officer in charge overheard him boasting to the other prisoners that it wouldn’t be long before he was free again. The officer warned the governor of Pentonville, who prepared for his attempt. Horridge stuck to his plan and, along with two other convicts, made a sprint for the wall of the prison. The alarm was raised and after his companions had surrendered, the prison guards shot Horridge three times before he conceded defeat. Although partially paralysed by his injuries, Horridge went on to commit even more daring, and potentially deadly, crimes after his release from Pentonville. When he was arrested by Detective Caminada one final time, after a life-threatening confrontation at Liverpool Docks, and incarcerated in Parkhurst, Bob Horridge never saw the light of day again. The most recent successful escape from Parkhurst Prison took place in 1995, when three prisoners managed to acquire a ladder, a gun, a key to all the doors and £200 in cash. They cut a hole in the outer fence and absconded. After three days of freedom, they were apprehended, and the prison was downgraded. IMG_0401 You can read more about the criminal exploits of Bob Horridge in The Real Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Story of Jerome Caminada, which is now available for download.

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