Daniel Khalife 'may have escaped prison using bed sheets'

Former soldier in custody after being charged with escaping from Wandsworth jail

A court artist's sketch of Daniel Khalife appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London on Monday. PA
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Daniel Khalife, the former soldier and terror suspect who went on the run from a London prison, allegedly escaped by strapping himself to the underside of food delivery lorry using material “which may have been from bed sheets”, a court has heard.

The 21 year old was remanded at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with escaping custody at HMP Wandsworth last Wednesday.

He was arrested on a canal towpath in West London at 10.40am on Saturday after being pulled off a bicycle by a plain clothes counter-terrorism officer.

Before his alleged escape, Mr Khalife had been on remand at Wandsworth after being charged with terror offences in January.

He will appear at the Old Bailey on September 29.

Detailing the allegation against the defendant, prosecutor Thomas Williams said the former soldier is alleged to have escaped on the underside of a food delivery vehicle.

Mr Williams said Khalife is accused of strapping himself to the lorry using “material which may have been from bed sheets”.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram was told the material was found underneath the vehicle by police, with clips at each end and marks which were consistent with someone having been there.

The court also heard that, when Khalife was arrested, he had a bag containing cash and a mobile phone with him.

Police checked gardens, stopped and inspected cars, and asked residents for their IDs throughout Saturday morning following the alleged escape.

Mr Khalife was brought up with his twin sister by a single mother who was born and raised in Iran.

One friend said the family had initially lived in central London, and moved to Teddington when Mr Khalife was about 10.

“He was a very nice guy when he joined school aged 11. He was the class clown, one of the funniest in the year, but he went into his shell a bit,” the friend said.

The family lived in a cramped flat in Kingston, West London and both children attended Teddington School.

Mr Khalife was in the lower sets at school. He was described as a bit of a loner who would sit at the back of the classroom “swinging on his chair”.

He was described as “a bit lost and generally quite sweet”.

“He was not academically inclined but not intimidating either,” a former schoolmate said. “He was a spotty, lanky teenager who sat at the back of class and no one really spoke to, a lost soul.”

Although there was some trouble with pupils from a local estate, generally the school achieved good results.

Mr Khalife gained a “handful” of GCSEs and then dropped out of school to join the army, where he was serving at Beacon Barracks in Staffordshire, the base for the 1st Signal Brigade.

Mr Khalife's grandparents came to the UK from Iran in 1995. His grandmother was a primary schoolteacher in her home country and his grandfather, who died in 2020, was an accountant at Tehran University.

Mr Khalife's mother was born in Iran and worked at C&A, the clothes store, and at a bank before getting married in her early 20s.

His father is originally from Lebanon, but his mother's family did not approve of the match, and his maternal grandfather and uncle did not attend the wedding.

The couple broke up when Mr Khalife and his sister were young, and their grandmother began to help their mother, taking the children to school and cooking for them.

Updated: September 11, 2023, 11:06 AM