Most jaw-dropping prison escapes – from dressing up as woman to mile-long tunnel

Whether it’s dressing up in drag or hiding in a laundry basket, history has seen some bold and bizarre escape bids by prison inmates.

Now six Palestinians have broken out of the maximum-security Gilboa jail in Israel, dubbed “The Safe,” after using a rusty spoon to dig a tunnel under a sink.

They discovered a structural flaw in the prison’s design and spent more than a year digging.

A warden in one of the guard towers above the tunnel shaft also fell asleep during the daring escape.

Here, James Moore looks at other wild and wacky ways lags have absconded…

Horsing about

In 1943, during World War Two, brave British PoWs Michael Codner, Eric Williams and Oliver Philpot successfully escaped from the Stalag Luft III camp through a tunnel under a gymnastic vaulting horse made from Red Cross parcels.

Colditz caper

One of the few PoWs to get out of the supposedly “escape-proof” German castle was Lieutenant Airey Neave, later an MP.

In 1942 he escaped through a trapdoor during a theatre performance, then brazenly walked out dressed in a fake German officer’s uniform.

Biker breakout

  • Moment 'idiotic' disqualified driver sped car down busy railway tracks

Infamous drug lord El Chapo, now serving life in a US prison, hid in a laundry basket to flee a Mexican jail in 2001.

He escaped another in 2015 from his cell’s shower into an elaborate mile-long tunnel complete with lighting, ventilation and a motorbike!

Fruitful plan

  • Mum fuming after 'petty' school sends daughters home as shoes considered 'boots'

In 1986 French armed robber Michel Vaujour, serving a 28-year stretch, painted nectarines to look like grenades to help him get on to the roof of his Parisian prison.

There his wife picked him up via helicopter. He was later caught.

Burger me

Hacksaw blades were smuggled into prison in frozen hamburger meat to help convicted killers David Sweat and Richard Matt escape a New York prison in 2015.

They cut through a steel wall and into a pipe to freedom – leaving a note.

A standoff later saw Matt shot dead and Sweat recaptured.

Doing a stretch

In 2012 yoga fan and 5ft 5in robber Choi Gab-bok used his flexy skills and some ointment to squeeze through a food tray slot in his South Korean cell which measured just 18×6 inches. He was caught six days later.

Skirting the rules

  • Mum-of-two forced to eat paint by cruel ex who broke her jaw with iron bar

In the same year drug trafficker Ronaldo Silva walked out past the guards of a Brazilian jail by shaving his legs and wearing a wig, blue dress and red lipstick given to him on a visit by his wife.

The 39-year-old was later picked up by the authorities who found him struggling in heels.

What a carve up

  • Terrified children jump out of windows as lorry 'deliberately' smashes into house

American gangster and serial escapee John Dillinger wormed his way out of jail in 1934, using a fake wooden gun carved from shelving and coloured with black shoe polish, after convincing guards he had a real firearm.

Bare-faced cheek

When conman Frank Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie Catch Me If You Can, arrived at a US jail to serve a 12-year sentence, he managed to persuade officials he was actually an undercover prison inspector and subsequently talked his way out.

Key detail

In 1995, Keith Rose, Andrew Rodger and Matthew Williams memorised the shape of the guard’s master key, then cut their own in a workshop to escape through locked doors at Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight.

They were caught trying to steal a plane.

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