John Massey: One of Britain's longest-serving prisoners freed

A convicted murderer who was one of Britain's longest serving prisoners has been released after spending nearly 43 years behind bars.

John Massey, who escaped from custody three times, was set free yesterday after he was jailed in 1976 for the murder of a pub doorman.

The 69-year-old was greeted by his sister Jane and his niece Michelle as he walked out of the Category C HMP Warren Hill in Suffolk.

Massey, from Kentish Town, north London, pleaded guilty to killing Charlie Higgins outside a bar in Hackney and was handed a 20 year life sentence at the Old Bailey for murder.  

John Massey before he was jailed in 1976 for murdering a bouncer

John Massey, after he escaped from prison in 2012 (left) and before he was jailed (right) in 1976 for murdering a bouncer

Decades later, he left Warren Hill yesterday telling the Camden New Journal he 'deeply regretted the crime' saying it 'happened in a moment of madness.'

He told the paper: 'I have served my sentence with remorse and am thankful the Parole Board have come to the decision that I should now be released.'

The publication reported that as he walked to the gates of the prison he was met with applause by other inmates.

Six years ago he made a daring escape from Pentonville prison in north London using a makeshift rope to scale the walls on the Victorian-built jail.

Six years ago Mr Massey escaped from Pentonville Prison (pictured) by using a makeshift rope and scaling the walls

Six years ago Mr Massey escaped from Pentonville Prison (pictured) by using a makeshift rope and scaling the walls

He wanted to see his mother May, who had Alzheimer’s disease on her deathbed after he learned she was calling out his name.

Massey’s first escape was in 1994 during a home visit when he calmly walked out of a social club while his guards played pool and drank. 

He fled to the Costa Del Sol and spent three years on the run before being caught and returned to Britain. 

In 2007 he was released on parole but was told he must live in South London and could not stay with his family. But he broke the conditions by travelling to stay with his father, Jack, 82, who was dying at the Royal Free Hospital, in North London. 

The Cricketers pub in Hackney, east London where John Massey, now 64, shot dead a bouncer Charlie Higgins, 36, in 1975

The Cricketers pub in Hackney, east London where John Massey, now 64, shot dead a bouncer Charlie Higgins, 36, in 1975

The scene in 1975, following the shotgun murder of Charlie Higgins, 36, which happened after he was thrown out of the pub for fighting

The scene in 1975, following the shotgun murder of Charlie Higgins, 36, which happened after he was thrown out of the pub for fighting

Massey said at time time: ‘My dad had travelled the length and breadth of this country a thousand times in 30 years in order to visit me in various god-forsaken and dingy prisons.

‘I could not fail him or my mother. To do so would have buckled my shoulders with guilt of unspeakable things to come.’ 

In 2010 he absconded from Ford open prison in West Sussex after being refused permission to visit his terminally ill sister Carol, who was in the same hospital where his father died.

She died two weeks later but rather than hand himself in Massey went to live with his mother and was not caught for ten months. 

Massey was sentenced to life in 1976 for shooting bouncer Higgins, 36, with a sawn-off shotgun after being thrown out of an East London pub for fighting.

He was also convicted of attempting to shoot a policeman dead after being chased in his Aston Martin getaway car. 

His daring escape six years ago he was suspected of hiding in the roof of the gym as other inmates returned to their cells.

He then used a makeshift rope – believed to have been strung together out of sheets – and a pair of heavy duty gloves to scale the high prison wall. 

Guards monitoring CCTV cameras saw the rope and raced to the perimeter wall but were too late. They suspect he was assisted by someone outside.

John Turner, Mr Massey's solicitor told the Camden New Journal that his release is 'long overdue'.

He said his release from prison was delayed by the parole board because of 'loyalty towards a family who stood by him' and said they were decisions 'any loving son or brother would have made.' 

He insisted his client was not a danger to the public, saying he was 'thrilled that he has been allowed to return home.'

Who are Britain's longest-serving inmates? 

The death of Moors Murderer Ian Brady in May last year brought to a close his distinction of being the longest-serving detained criminal.

The evil child killer, who died from cancer in a Liverpool hospital, was locked up for 51 years following his conviction in 1966. 

He became Britain longest serving detainee after the death of John Straffen in 2007, at the age of 77, with the serial killer spending more than 50 years in jail.

There are still more than 60 others locked up who will never enjoy freedom again. 

Now John Massey has been released at nearly 43 years, we look here at some of Britain's other longest-serving criminals...    

Robert Maudsley

Detained since 1973 

Robert Maudsley garroted a man who had hired him as a rent boy and is considered one of the most dangerous inmates in Britain today. He has been detained since 1973.

Infamously known as 'Hannibal the Cannibal', the 63-year-old from Liverpool murdered his first victim John Farrell in 1973 while working as a rent boy.

It was determined that Maudsley was not fit to stand trial and he was sent to Broadmoor psychiatric hospital.

Robert Maudsley has been detained since 1973 after he garrotted a man who had hired him as a rent boy. He is considered one of the most dangerous inmates in Britain today 

Robert Maudsley has been detained since 1973 after he garrotted a man who had hired him as a rent boy. He is considered one of the most dangerous inmates in Britain today 

Maudsley claimed the reason he killed Farrell was that the labourer had shown him images of children he had previously abused.

However, in 1977, while in Broadmoor, Maudsley and a second inmate took a paedophile hostage and killed him over the course of nine hours.

When prison officers managed to get into the cell, they found the victim with a spoon stuck in his skull.

It led to Maudsley being nicknamed 'The Cannibal Killer' as it was rumoured he ate his victim's brain.

He is considered so dangerous that he spends his time in solitary confinement and exercises one hour a day in the company of six prison guards.

Charles Bronson

First jailed in 1974 

Born Michael Gordon Peterson, he was first jailed in 1974, aged 22, for an armed robbery on a post office and his jail time has been repeatedly extended for various crimes including taking prisoners hostage. 

The notorious prisoner and former bare-knuckle boxer changed his name to Charles Bronson in 1989. 

He has convictions for wounding, criminal damage, GBH, false imprisonment, blackmail and threatening to kill - and has

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