Police in Russia have captured a murderer after he made a Hollywood-style escape from prison with the help of two friends who hijacked a helicopter and hoisted him aboard with a rope ladder.

Alexei Shestakov, 35, was whisked away from a penal colony on Thursday morning in the village of Sheksna in Vologda region, 300 miles north of Moscow.

His accomplices, a man and a woman, hijacked at gunpoint a Mi-2 helicopter booked for a “business delegation” and forced the pilot to fly to the jail and hover over their friend as he climbed up the ladder. Witnesses said guards fired on the helicopter as it flew away, to no avail. The aircraft was later found abandoned by a road on the edge of Vologda.

The pilot was discovered several miles away, bound and gagged. Police said they had ambushed Shestakov not far from the town after officers saw him by chance, stopping a taxi. He was slightly injured in an exchange of fire with police. The prisoner was 12 years into a 24-year sentence for murder and theft.

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