Daniel Khalife ‘may have used bed sheets to escape prison’

A former soldier suspected of spying for the Iranian regime may have used bed sheets to help him escape prison under a delivery lorry, a court has heard.

Daniel Khalife has been charged with escaping from lawful custody at HMP Wandsworth in London on Wednesday while awaiting trial in relation to terrorism and Official Secrets Act offences.

The 21-year-old sparked a nationwide manhunt but was arrested on a canal towpath in Northolt, west London at 10.41am on Saturday after being pulled off a bike by a plain clothes counter-terrorism officer.

His capture followed a four-day search after he went missing from the southwest London prison on Wednesday.

The Met said a member of the public reported seeing a man matching Khalife’s description walking away from a Bidfood van that had stopped near the south entrance to Wandsworth roundabout on Wednesday morning.

Officers then carried out a search in the Richmond area, and although Khalife was not found there they received a number of calls from the public reporting sightings nearby.

Khalife, of no fixed abode, was charged on Sunday with escaping from lawful custody while being held on a “criminal charge”.

After arriving in a custody van, Khalife appeared at a short hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday morning where he spoke only to confirm his name and age.

Thomas Williams, prosecuting, said Khalife allegedly escaped prison by strapping himself to the underside of a food delivery vehicle using a material “which may have been from bed sheets”.

Gul Nawaz Hussain KC, defending, said there was no indication of a plea at this stage and there was no application for bail.

Khalife, wearing a standard issue grey prison jumper and jogging bottoms and with his hair slicked back, was remanded in custody and Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikran sent the hearing to the Old Bailey where he will next appear on Sept 29.

During the search, police were seen checking people’s gardens, stopping cars, inspecting car boots and asking residents for their IDs throughout Saturday morning before Khalife was found on the towpath in Northolt, around eight miles from where he was last seen by a member of the public.

Charges against Khalife

Khalife was on remand at HMP Wandsworth after being charged with terrorism offences in January.

In a statement, the Met Police said Khalife would be “charged as follows: “On the sixth day of September 2023, then being a prisoner in His Majesty’s Prison at Wandsworth, being remanded in custody pending trial as ordered at the Central Criminal Court on the 21st day of July 2023, escaped, contrary to common law”.

The ex-Signals soldier, formerly based at Beacon Barracks in Stafford, pleaded not guilty to three offences at a hearing earlier this year.

Under the Official Secrets Act he is charged with “committing an act prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state” by obtaining, collecting, recording, publishing or communicating information useful to an enemy.

The two other charges relate to “eliciting information about members of the Armed Forces” which was likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism and perpetrating a bomb hoax.

He denied the charges against him during a hearing at the Old Bailey in July and was next due to appear at Woolwich Crown Court in November.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.

Leave a Comment