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Arsonist escapes priso...

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Arsonist escapes prison by clinging under security van

Reuters  March 30, 2009

LONDON—Police were hunting Monday a convicted arsonist who escaped from London's Pentonville prison by clinging to the underside of the security van that brought him there.

Julien Chautard, 39, gave prison officers the slip shortly after he was counted off the van, newspapers reported.

His disappearance Friday evening was not noticed before the van was cleared to drive out of the jail.

It was only when CCTV footage was checked seven hours later that officers noticed a shadow under the van that had not been there before.

Chautard had been sentenced earlier in the day at Snaresbrook Crown Court to seven years imprisonment for two counts of arson, Scotland Yard said.

Police said he has connections in France and also has links to the Hackney, Edgware and Kings Cross areas of north London.

"The circumstances around the escape will be fully investigated," the Ministry of Justice said.