Prisoners David Crossfield and Jordan Morgan plotted to tunnel out of prison and set about digging a hole in their cell wall.

Using a metal drawer runner, the pair spent hours scraping away at mortar and hid the rubble and dust in a pair of old tracksuit pants.

But, Preston Crown Court heard that their tunnel instead lead to an enclosed area inside the prison walls.

As it turned out, however, they never got that far.

After little more than a day Morgan got cold feet and, via another inmate, alerted prison officers to their plan.

The court heard that Morgan, 18, who was awaiting sentencing for arson, and Crossfield, also 18, devised the ‘fanciful’ escape while sharing a cell in March and April this year.

The duo used sheer brute force to break through a chimney breast, then a metal drawer runner to scrape away at mortar on the original Victorian brickwork beneath.

It is thought the pair had been digging for 24 hours when Morgan changed his mind and asked another prisoner to tell staff about the hole in their cell.

When shown pictures of the damage Andrew Long, the Recorder of Preston, remarked: ‘It looks a bit Colditz doesn’t it?’ Silvia Dacre, prosecuting, said prison officers were alerted to the hole on April 7.

‘When they went in they found there was a large hole in the chimney breast, and that rubble had been removed,’ she said.

‘Behind the facade of the chimney breast, the original brickwork had been tampered with.

‘It was then possible to gain access to the chimney and to an external area, which could have, in theory, enabled access to an enclosed area, not far from the perimeter of the prison.’

After the discovery was made, the two prisoners were taken from the cell and segregated.

Miss Dacre said: ‘They confirmed they had used bodily force to break through the chimney breast and removed rubble, and had hidden it to hide what they were doing.’

Crossfield was in jail on remand for burglary, a charge which was eventually left on file, while Morgan was awaiting sentencing for a series of drunken arson attacks across Fylde, Lancashire, at the time.

The pair were initially charged with aiding a prisoner to escape, but prosecutors dropped the charge after both pleaded guilty to criminal damage.

Miss Dacre added: ‘In interview, they both suggested they were under duress from one another and blamed the other for putting pressure on each other, with a view of escaping.

‘When possible pleas were considered, it was decided that in reality they may have had some rather Colditz-inspired notion of escape, but in reality this was so fanciful it was really not a realistic attempt.’

Crossfield, whose address was given as HMP Preston, was sentenced to two months jail, less 37 days he had already spent in custody.

Morgan, of Blackpool, was also sentenced to two months. The court heard he was given an indefinite prison sentence for the arson attacks carried out in March last year, which caused tens of thousands of pounds and also lead to the deaths of 26 animals at Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary.

He will have to serve a minimum of three years and two-and-a-half months in jail before being eligible for release.

A spokesman for HMP Preston said they had launched an internal investigation into the incident.

‘The damage was discovered as part of the normal routine security checks carried out on a daily basis,’ he said.

‘Every cell is checked every day in terms of the fabric of the cell and, as part of this process, someone has said something to the officer carrying out the check. It was far from the potential of them actually escaping the prison, although damage had been done.’

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