Police name Pentonville fugitives as James Whitlock and Matthew Baker

James Whitlock and Matthew Baker Image copyright Met Police
Image caption James Whitlock (left) and Matthew Baker shared a cell at the prison

Two men who escaped from Pentonville prison have been named, as police warn the public not to approach them.

James Whitlock, 31, and Matthew Baker, 28, used pillows to look like bodies to make it look like they were asleep.

It is understood they used diamond-tipped cutting equipment to break cell bars before scaling the perimeter wall of the north London prison.

Baker was waiting to be sentenced for attempted murder while Whitlock had been charged with burglary.

Following a trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, Baker was found guilty on 4 October of the attempted murder of a man at a flat in Dagenham last year.

He was found not guilty of making threats to kill against a woman who witnessed the attack, the Met said.

He was due to be sentenced on 11 November.

The Met said Whitlock's charges relate to 19 offences of theft from ATMs at various locations in the south-east of England between December 2015 and August 2016.

It is not known what clothes Baker and Whitlock, who has the word Tracy tattooed on his torso, were wearing when they escaped.

The men were not required for prison work, which is why they were not reported missing until 12:00 GMT, the BBC's home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said.

He added staff were expected to conduct a visual check on prisoners at about 07:00.

It is understood pillows in their cells were made to look like bodies. Initial reports suggested mannequins had been left in the beds.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The last prisoner to escape from Pentonville was convicted murderer John Massey in 2012

A prison spokesperson said: "Public protection is our top priority and we take escapes from custody extremely seriously.

"We are working closely with the police and are urgently investigating the matter."

The escaped prisoners were on G wing, the same wing where 21-year-old prisoner Jamal Mahmoud was fatally stabbed last month.

Following the attack, about half of the 200 prison officers passed a vote of no confidence in Pentonville governor Kevin Reilly.

The officers claim they cannot stop drugs and weapons being thrown over the prison walls.

Pentonville Prison

  • A category B Victorian prison which opened in 1842
  • It holds more than 1,200 adult men
  • It is located on Caledonian Road in Islington, north London
  • Notable former inmates include Oscar Wilde in 1895

Camilla Poulton, chair of the Pentonville Prison Independent Monitoring Board, said: "As we reported in the summer to the Secretary of State for Justice, HMP Pentonville will remain a soft target for contraband and other security breaches as long as its dilapidated windows are in place, notwithstanding the efforts of management and staff."

She added a member of the monitoring board was at the prison on Monday and that it would closely follow the prison's response to the escape.

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