1. ITV Report

Manhunt after prison van ambush continues

Forensic police officers examine evidence at the crime scene where two men escaped from a prison van that came under attack in Salford. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/

Police continue to hunt two men on the run after being sprung from a prison van in an armed ambush in Salford.

Ryan MacDonald, 20, and Stevie McMullen, 31, were being taken to court when they were freed in Salford by three men, one believed to have been brandishing a shotgun, who attacked the GEOAmey prison transport vehicle.

Greater Manchester Police force launched a manhunt, with Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan saying the men "represent a risk to the community".

He singled out McMullen, who was standing trial accused of a string of serious offences, as of particular concern.

"I am concerned about them being on the loose, they are responsible for some serious offences," he said.

"I don't think they pose a risk unless approached so it's really important that if anyone sees them they contact us straightaway."

Ryan Macdonald and Stevie McMullen Credit: GMP

Following the ambush police arrested a man and a woman on the nearby Ordsall Estate in Salford, near where a Saab used as a getaway car was found abandoned, he added.

The 28-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender and the 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs and breaching a court order and were held in custody.

MacDonald and McMullen were en route to Manchester Crown Court from the privately-run HMP Altcourse near Liverpool when they were freed, with a third person in the van carrying on to court, police said.

McMullen was on trial accused of conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit arson and possession of a firearm, while MacDonald was due to be sentenced for conspiracy to commit robbery.

The van came under attack shortly after 9am in the A57 Regent Road, Salford, a main road into Manchester about half a mile from the city's Crown Court and Strangeways prison.

One of the men who sprang the prisoners may be armed with a sawn-off shotgun, which was used to smash the windscreen of the van during the attack, Mr Mulligan added.

The Saab was abandoned in Regent Road, near a roundabout at the end of the M602. Three men ran off on to the Ordsall Estate and the other two got on to a motorcycle, later found abandoned in Thurlow Street in Salford Quays.

The van, which had both the driver and passenger side cab windows smashed, was removed from the scene yesterday afternoon.

A large number of officers in protective search clothes conducted fingertip searches in part of the estate next to the dual carriageway.

"It's very concerning, obviously," Mr Mulligan told reporters. "We have got a major investigation in place, we've got increased police presence in the area and a major investigation is ongoing to recover these people back into custody and also find those responsible for the offences."

He went on: "Shortly after the escape we've actually detained two people on the Ordsall Estate - a male and a female.

"I must stress these aren't the two individuals that escaped from the prison van but we believe or suspect that they may be involved in the actual escape. They're currently in custody at the moment.

"We do have in place a major investigation, we are following all lines of inquiry. What I will promise is we will return these people to custody."

The guards in the ambush were left "very shaken" but uninjured after the incident, police said.

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