A prisoner escaped from a Westcountry court yesterday by vaulting out of the dock in front of two security officers and fleeing from the building.
Minutes earlier the man had entered not guilty pleas to charges of sexual assault, making threats to kill and damage to property.
It was Mr Recorder Paul Grumbar who first noticed the man leaping out of the dock and cried out. A quick-thinking clerk of the court hit the panic button.
Four Crown Court security staff and the two dock security officers employed by GEOAmey gave chase.
An eye-witness said: "The man raced across the lawn in the precincts of the court and leapt up on to a wall. One of the court security officers had him by the arm but he jumped over the wall.
"There's a 10ft drop on the other side into the car park below."
One of the court security officers eventually caught up with the man around 300 metres from the court in a side road and hauled him back to the cells. Mr Recorder Grumbar adjourned the case for a three-day trial with a date yet to be fixed.
A member of the public who was sitting in court said afterwards: "I couldn't belive my eyes. It was like something off the telly. The bloke in the dock looked really calm. Then all of a sudden he ran and vaulted clean over the dock and out the door."