A prisoner cut off part of his ear so he could escape from an ambulance on the way to hospital, Greater Manchester Police said today.
Michael O’Donnell, 28, told staff at Forest Bank prison in Salford at around 1.30am yesterday that he had been injured in his cell.
An ambulance was called to take him to Hope Hospital, also in Salford, but on the way four masked men pulled up in a stolen BMW.
They smashed the ambulance windows with baseball bats and bolt-cutters and O’Donnell, who was escorted by three prison guards, escaped.
He was handcuffed to one officer, who released him during the ambush.
O’Donnell was waiting to be sentenced for conspiracy to rob and commit burglary.
Assistant Chief Constable Ian Hopkins appealed to the public for help in finding him.
He said: “Officers from the major incident team, who usually investigate murders, are working round the clock now following up a number of lines of inquiry to try and find Michael O’Donnell, but we need your help in finding him.
“This was a terrifying attack on an ambulance and, though nobody was physically harmed, it certainly left the people who were looking after O’Donnell at that time feeling understandably frightened.
“O’Donnell had been warned by a judge that he was facing a long prison sentence. He needs to be caught and put back where he belongs.”
Police said the public should not approach O’Donnell, who is 6ft and has short, fair hair.
He has links to Stockport and south Manchester, and possibly the travelling community.