un | 21.01.2003 18:41
Paul Okere, 22, was held captive for 11 of the 15 days of the siege in Hackney, east London, over Christmas and New Year before making his escape. Speaking publicly for the first time since he escaped, Mr Okere, a social work student, said he developed a bond with the gunman, Eli Hall, who lived in an adjacent bedsit, but decided to escape after Hall began threatening to kill him.
After shots were fired at the start of the siege on Boxing Day, Mr Okere said he telephoned Scotland Yard's central switchboard but was told to ring local police in Hackney, who in turn told him to ring an emergency team dealing with the siege. Mr Okere said he told police he would try to escape and would be wearing a green top to make sure marksmen did not mistake him for Hall, but officers failed to suggest a plan of action. Recounting his ordeal yesterday, he said he still suffered panic attacks. "I have to look around to assure myself [Hall] is not there," he said.
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said Mr Okere's claims were being investigated