An Eastbourne prisoner attempted a dramatic break for freedom this morning at Hastings Magistrates’ Court but was foiled by a solicitor who tackled him to the ground, writes Katy Weitz.
A case of domestic violence was being heard in Court Number 3 when the proceedings were interrupted by a series of banging and shouts coming up from the cells.
The usher moved quickly to close the door to the cells and remove the defendant from the dock before the prisoner, wearing a khaki t-shirt and jeans, came crashing through the door, leapt over the barrier of the dock and bolted for the exit.
At that moment, defence solicitor Kieron Locke tackled the 27-year-old detainee to the ground and the court security staff also jumped on him to overpower him and prevent him escaping.
The prisoner, who was due to appear in court today on a number of driving offences, was shouting and thrashing about with great force and it took several more minutes for the court staff to subdue him.
He was handcuffed but he repeatedly shouted out: “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I need an asthma pump. Glass of water please!”
Sussex police confirmed he has now been recalled to custody but has not as yet been charged with any extra offences.
Kieron Locke, who was taken to hospital with suspected cracked ribs, said he didn’t think twice before acting.
He said: “I heard the banging and then he came flying over. I gave him a rugby tackle, old school style and heard a crunch to my ribs. It all happened so quickly. Next time I won’t try to be such a hero!”
A member of Hastings Magistrates’ Court staff, who did not wish to be identified, confirmed it was the first time they had dealt with an attempted break out in many years.
It is thought the prisoner broke down several doors to escape from the cells and then managed to find the only court in Hastings Magistrates’ Court with an unsecured dock.
The docks in the two other courts have glass walls that would have prevented him getting into court from the cells.