Sunday 24 September 2017

'Extremely dangerous' prisoner at large Derek Brockwell tasered, caught by police

* Derek Brockwell stabbed two prison officers before making his escape
* Escaped during scheduled trip to Tallaght Hospital
* Accomplice waited on motorbike for Brockwell outside hospital
* Glaswegian-born Brockwell serving time in Portlaoise
* Described as 'extremely dangerous' by Scotland Yard
* Armed garda escort for Brockwell cancelled last year

Derek Brockwell
Derek Brockwell
Derek Brockwell
Stephen Delaney, president of the Prison Officers Association, arrives at Tallaght Hospital yesterday
Tallaght Hospital

Paul Williams and Denise Calnan

Prisoner at large Derek Brockwell has been caught by police in Belfast city centre this evening after more than 24 hours on the run.

Members of the PSNI 'located and detained' the notorious 53-year-old man who made his escape from the prison authorities during a scheduled hospital trip in Dublin just after 3pm yesterday.

It is understood police spotted a man of Brockwell's description sitting outside a pub in Belfast city centre. A struggle ensued and Brockwell was tasered at the scene. He was then brought to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

The Police Ombudsman has been informed of the incident, PSNI confirmed tonight.

PSNI Detective Sergeant Kenneth Leckey said: "A man unlawfully at large from the Republic of Ireland was located by police in Belfast city centre following a police operation this evening.

"A Taser was deployed during the operation and the Police Ombudsman has been informed."

A major manhunt took place in the country in the past 24 hours after Brockwell stabbed two prison officers and escaped during a trip to Tallaght Hospital, Dublin.

The search saw extra officers posted to sea and airports to watch out for the dangerous fugitive while gardai also worked closely with the UK police and the PSNI.

Stephen Delaney, president of the Prison Officers Association, arrives at Tallaght Hospital yesterday
Stephen Delaney, president of the Prison Officers Association, arrives at Tallaght Hospital yesterday

Overnight and today detectives also interviewed anyone who had visited Brockwell in Portlaoise maximum security prison over the past 12 months.

Meanwhile Dan Buckley, the prison officer who underwent emergency surgery for a stab wound to the stomach, is expected to be moved from intensive care in the next few hours.

Tallaght Hospital where the incident occurred
Tallaght Hospital where the incident occurred

His colleague, Graham Flynn who was stabbed in the back and hand is also recovering from his injuries, which were not as serious.

Read more: Security had been relaxed for criminal before escape

It has emerged this afternoon that the two brave officers, understood to be aged in their 30s, attempted to disarm the notorious armed robber when he produced a knife which had been left for him in a toilet by an accomplice.

Gardai say that Brockwell, who is over six feet in height and of a strong build, showed that he was prepared to kill the two officers.

Sources also revealed that Mr Flynn had not realised he had been stabbed in the back until after the incident. He also underwent surgery for his wounds.

Brockwell, who is now facing the prospect of serving the rest of his life in prison if caught, will be even more dangerous than before because he has nothing to lose, a senior security source told independent.ie.

Apart from the criminal investigation into the stabbing of the officers and the escape plot, a separate enquiry will focus on who decided to downgrade the security status of a dangerous criminal who had already escaped from a UK prison in 2012.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, meanwhile, has asked for a report into the circumstances surrounding the escape of the convict.

Ms Fitzgerald said today it was a priority that Brockwell be returned to prison as quickly as possible, adding her thoughts are with the prison officers who were attacked and injured in the incident.

Brockwell was considered so dangerous he was previously given an armed garda escort for his scheduled visits to Tallaght Hospital where he was undergoing treatment for diabetes.

The Prison Officers Association have revealed that it was decided last year to cancel the garda escort.

The POA also demanded that their members be equipped with stab vests and other devices necessary to protect themselves from attack.

Read more: Prisoner stabs officers amid escape

Said Gabriel Keavney, assistant general secretary of the POA: “We are demanding to know who decided that it was safe enough to remove the garda escort for this man. It beggars belief that the Prison Service would downgrade the status of such a high profile prisoner.”

He added: “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,” Mr Keaveny explained.

Before being arrested by gardai in October 2012, he had been on the run from English police since February of that year and had even featured on the BBC’s Crimewatch television programme just days before being arrested by detectives in Blackrock, south Dublin.

Brockwell had been given 22 life sentences for a series of armed robberies in London in 1999 but fled from a day-release programme.

Apart from his four armed robbery convictions here, Brockwell has 64 previous convictions in the UK, including 11 for firearms and 11 for robbery.

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