Witness: ‘I thought I would die’

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A prison officer has told a jury she feared for her life when an ex-con held a gun to her head and demanded a prisoner in her custody be freed.

Kim Lockwood thought she was in a training exercise at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, when the gunman demanded the release of prisoner Andrew Farndon on January 25 this year.

Ms Lockwood was appearing at Woolwich Crown Court last Thursday as a witness in the trial of Garry Cowan, 45, of St Andrews in Scotland.

The escape took place after Farndon had to go to the hospital’s accident and emergency department after suffering a knife wound to his shoulder at Highpoint prison in Stradishall.

She told jurors that she felt a gun being pressed against her head after stepping out of a taxi used to travel to the hospital.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, she said: “As we got out of the car I could obviously feel what I realised was the gun at my head. I was looking at Mr Farndon. He started saying I’m sorry miss, let me go’.”

Prosecutor Gregory Perrins then asked her what she thought was happening.

“At first, that it was a training thing work had set up - but very quickly it went out of my head,” she said.

However, it was Ms Lockwood’s colleague, Chris Matson, who held the keys to the handcuffs.

Ms Lockwood said: “The gunman said he had 10 seconds to get the cuffs off or he was going to shoot us.

“He (Mr Matson) was struggling to get the keys out because he was shaking at the same time.”

Cowan has denied charges of possession of a replica handgun with intent to cause fear of violence and assisting an offender to escape.