Former British Army soldier Daniel Khalife is set to stand trial in July on four charges including escaping from Wandsworth prison and allegedly passing information to Iran.
Khalife, 21, broke out of the south London jail on September 6, using bed sheets to strap himself to the underside of a food delivery truck, sparking a 75-hour manhunt that saw officers watching transport hubs across the country.
But he was ultimately arrested on a canal path in Northolt, west London, three days after his escape by a plainclothes counter-terror officer who pulled him off of his bike.
Appearing via video link from HMP Belmarsh at the Old Bailey on Friday, and dressed in a blue and yellow tracksuit, Khalife was told he should expect to stand trial in July, pushed back from an earlier date of this November.
The former soldier, who was based at MoD Stafford, is being held on remand at the more secure prison ahead of his trial on four charges, including breaching the Official Secrets Act.
Daniel Khalife appeared in court via video link to be told he will stand trial in July next year
Khalife has been charged with escaping from Wandsworth prison on September 6, while being held on remand
An earlier court sketch of Daniel Khalife after his first appearance on a charge of escaping from Wandsworth Prison. He appeared at the Old Bailey today via video link
Khalife is alleged to have committed an act ‘prejudicial to the interests or safety of the state by collecting information that might be useful to an enemy’ between May 1 2019 and January 6 2022.
Prosecutors say that he passed material to the Iranian intelligence services.
He is also said to have perpetrated a bomb hoax on or before January 2 this year by placing canisters with wires in his accomodation at Stafford, also known as Beacon Barracks.
A third charge alleges he elicited information about soldiers from the MoD Joint Personnel Administration System at the barracks that was ‘likely to be useful to a person committing an act of terrorism’ on 2 August 2021.
The fourth charge Khalife faces is of escaping prison on September 6 while being held on remand, contrary to common law.
The ex-soldier denies all four charges. He was due to face trial at Woolwich Crown Court on 13 November but Mr Justice Jeremy Baker today moved the six week trial to 29 July.
Prosecutor Thomas Williams earlier told Westminster Magistrates’ Court that on the morning of 6 September, Wandsworth prison notified police Khalife was missing.
He had been working in the jail kitchen and ‘there were suspicions he had disappeared via a food delivery truck.’
The court heard police intercepted the delivery truck at 8:40am on Upper Richmond Road.
Police found two makeshift straps, made from material thought to be from bed sheets, with clips on each end, attached to the underside of the vehicle.
Mr Williams said: ‘There was a four-day manhunt of 150 police officers per day, using resources from other police forces and government agencies.’
Daniel Khalife was a British Army soldier – but faces charges of sending information to Iranian intelligence services
Khalife was arrested on this canal path in west London three days after his alleged escape
The court heard Khalife was arrested at 10:41am on 9 September after a plain clothed officer, in an unmarked vehicle received reports Khalife had been spotted on a bicycle.
Khalife had in his possession a small amount of money, clothes and a mobile phone.
He told officers he had ‘almost been caught on several occasions’, that he ‘hated the governor of Wandsworth’, and that he had been to Richmond Park and Chiswick.
Khalife also told officers the lorry driver was unaware of his escape.
An investigation has been launched into how a prisoner managed to break out of the Category B jail.
HMP Belmarsh, where Khalife is held now, is a category A security prison, while HMP Wandsworth is a category B.
Category A prisons house male prisoners whose escape would pose the most threat to the public, police or national security.
Khalife, who was further remanded into custody, will next appear for a hearing on 21 December.