A violent criminal has escaped from custody in Dublin, Ireland, brutally stabbing two prison officers in the process. On the afternoon of February 17, 53-year-old Derek Brockwell had been transported to Tallaght Hospital from Portlaoise Prison, where he is serving a seven year sentence for armed robbery. The BBC reports that the hospital visit had been one of a number of regularly scheduled appointments for Brockwell to receive treatment at a diabetes clinic. It appears that Brockwell attacked the officers accompanying him at around 3 p.m., and was aided in his escape by an associate on a motorcycle.
Brockwell — standing at 6 feet, 3 inches tall, with brown hair — is said to have attacked the officers with extreme aggression. Prison officer Dan Buckley was stabbed in the stomach, and prison officer Graham Flynn was stabbed in the back and hand. Both have undergone emergency surgery and are now believed to be in a stable condition — recovering from their traumatic injuries.
The Journal reports that another clinic attendee — Michael Clinton — came face-to-face with Brockwell as he departed the building with security guards in pursuit.
“You’d know there was something going on. I was more interested in protecting my partner. [Brockwell] was quite calmly walking. It was only when the security guard got within 20 – 30 feet [of him] he started jogging.”
As Clinton entered the clinic, he was confronted with a scene of carnage.
“I could very clearly see the stab wound – it looked like it might be three to four inches, on the left hand side. The prison officer was on the ground – there was blood squirting everywhere.
The second guard was trying to raise the alarm on their phone. It might have been 10 seconds after it happened. The people in shock were stunned and rooted to the spot.
The staff were unbelievable. [They were] rallying around and organising both the people that were there to keep the people corralled in one area [so] that no one walked over and got in the way, and administering first aid to the gentleman. They were fantastic.”
Independent.ie reports that, in addition to the manhunt that is already underway, detectives are questioning every person that visited Brockwell in the past 12 months, and additional officers have been posted at sea and airports — although it is believed that he has no passport. Irish law enforcement agencies are working closely with their U.K. counterparts to apprehend Brockwell, due to the extensive criminal history of the escapee.
Investigations have also begun into the decision to downgrade the security of Brockwell — a dangerous convict who had already absconded from custody in the U.K. once before, in 2012. He fled a day-release work program, having been handed 22 life sentences for armed robberies. He has 64 previous convictions, including robbery and firearms offenses, and was re-apprehended in Dublin in October, 2012, having robbed the Bank of Ireland in Blackrock, South Dublin. Despite this previous incident of escape, and the violent, prolific nature of his crimes, the armed escort that had previously supervised his hospital visits was cancelled in 2014.
The Prison Officers Association has responded to this latest incident with a demand for greater protection for officers — as made clear in a statement from Assistant General Secretary Gabriel Keavney, reported by Independent.ie.
“We are demanding to know who decided that it was safe enough to remove the garda [police] escort for this man. It beggars belief that the Prison Service would downgrade the status of such a high profile prisoner.
There is no way that this escort should have gone ahead without armed gardai, without the (POA) officers having stab proof vests, without pepper spray being provided, extendable batons being provided. All this sort of stuff is normal in other jurisdictions – we’re not allowed it.
For years we have been asking the prison service to provide us with up-to-date modern personal protective equipment. There has been no response.”
Law enforcement agencies believe that Derek Brockwell is still in Ireland, and urge vigilance among residents. Brockwell is considered extremely dangerous.
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