The three balaclava-wearing men who ambushed the Salford prison van, allowing Ryan MacDonald and Stevie McMullen to escape, were all brandishing weapons, police have confirmed.
Police believe the ‘dangerous’ duo are still in the North West area and are asking the public to remain vigilant.
In new details released on the fourth day of the manhunt, police say a dark green Saab pulled out of Gloucester Street and blocked the prison van’s path as it travelled down Regent Road.
Three men then got out – one holding an axe, one with a sawn-off shotgun and another with a handgun – and smashed the driver’s window, forcing him out of the van.
He was order to open the van’s back doors as well as the two cells containing MacDonald, 20, and McMullen, 31, leaving another prisoner inside who refused to escape.
The two prisoners and three ambushers then got back into the Saab, with the registration C19 JCA, which was abandoned further up Regent Road, allowing them to run off Phoebe Street and into the Ordsall estate.
A black Yamaha 1000cc motorbike with the registration R1 GNE, was found a short time later in Thurlow Street, Salford Quays, after witnesses earlier reported a motorbike speeding through Ordsall with the rider dressed all in black and a pillion passenger wearing a red top and no helmet.
The van left HMP Altcourse in Liverpool at 7.35am heading for Manchester Crown Court where MacDonald was due to be sentenced after pleading guilty to robbery and driving offences, and McMullen was set to stand trial for a string of violent crimes.
Detective Superintendent Alex Millet, of the Major Incident Team, said: “We are now building up a better idea of what happened and want to appeal for people with specific information.
“We want to hear from anyone who has seen the dark green Saab since 12 April this year. Do you know where it may have been parked up or stored during this time?
“Also, does anyone know the movements of the Yamaha bike, registration R1 GNE.
“Regent Road was extremely busy with pedestrians and traffic at the time and I would appeal for any witnesses who saw the attack on the GeoAmey vehicle or the movements of the Saab or motorbike prior during or after the attack to contact the police.
“Finally, we also want information surrounding the offenders who actually attacked the security van.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0161 856 3342, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or in an emergency 999.