While in HMP Barlinnie, I planned to break out with my brother Jim and our friend Archie. There was a metal grate on the ceiling of a room on the top floor that was used to regulate the heating of the water, so we decided we were going to cut through it and go through the roof. The problem was that we were high-risk prisoners, which meant we weren’t allowed to be housed on the bottom landing in case we tunnelled out, or the top one in case we broke out through the ceiling. Me and Jim were in cells on the second landing and Archie’s cell was on the third. We were already under suspicion because we’d been involved in an escape attempt together in another prison, and knew we’d draw the attention of the guards if we all walked up onto the top landing together.
Fortunately, a room on another landing was connected to the room with the grate via a 12-inch-wide shaft filled with piping, providing me with a means of surreptitiously sneaking up to the top floor. Jim and Andy pulled me up from above and we made our way through a hole in the the grate, which had already been cut by other inmates with a hack-saw we’d had smuggled in. We ended up in a space between the ceiling and the roof. There was a door leading to the roof, which I managed to get open.
We’d arranged for some friends to have a car waiting for us outside the prison and pass us a mountaineering rope to scale the walls. Our pals strolled brazenly into the gardens of the screws’ quarters and attached one end of the rope to the pole their washing line was hung from. I threw a reel of tape we’d stolen from the prison textile shop down to them from the roof while holding onto the other end of the tape so they could attach the rope to the reel and I could pull it up. We then abseiled down the rope, jumped into the car and made out getaway.