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Sunday 22 October 2017

Profile: Criminal needed robberies to fund ‘lifestyle’

Derek Brockwell
Derek Brockwell

SERIAL robber Derek Brockwell, who managed to go on the run from prison authorities for the second time in his crime-ridden career, has no regrets about carrying out at least 15 armed robberies.

But he is anxious that his victims be aware that the hold-ups were "nothing personal". He offered in court to write to one of his victims in this country to explain that the robbery was "done in desperation" and that he needed the money to fund his lifestyle.

Brockwell explained to his lawyers that he enjoyed his lifestyle and that he was fond of a drink and a smoke.

Last night, gardai were backed by the PSNI and police forces overseas in the hunt for the escaped 53-year-old prisoner, who had previously been classified in the UK as a dangerous category A offender. He was eventually apprehended in Belfast last night.

Despite intelligence that he was regarded as a flight risk, Brockwell was taken from jail without an armed escort on seven occasions on visits to hospital and a medical centre.

Brockwell, who is Scottish, has few contacts here, apart from any relationships he might have struck up with cell-mates while in Portlaoise and Cloverhill prisons, according to gardai.

But somebody was prepared to take the risk to act as his accomplice and drive him to freedom on the back of a motorcycle after he had stabbed two prison officers in a toilet at Tallaght hospital on Tuesday.

He received regular visits from a man, every four to six weeks, while in Portlaoise jail and another person was granted two visits in a day after travelling to the prison from Scotland.

Relationship

Gardai looked to track down those visitors to establish their relationship with Brockwell and also interviewed other prisoners acquainted with him in prison.

Before he arrived here, Brockwell had already built up a lengthy criminal record.

He has 64 UK convictions for offences dated between 1984 and 2000. These included 11 robberies and 11 firearms offences, for which he received 22 life sentences.

He had served 12 years of his sentence when he was allowed out on day release from Kirkham open prison in Lancashire to work in Blackpool. But he failed to turn up at his workplace and joined the long list of inmates, who earned Kirkham the dubious reputation in 2003 of allowing more prisoners to abscond that any other open prison in England and Wales.

While on the run there, he was suspected by police of an attempted bank robbery in Lancashire in February 2012.

Brockwell was arrested by the gardai in Dublin later that year and pleaded guilty to four separate armed robberies in the capital.

The offences included a raid on a newsagents and a bank robbery. Sentencing him to seven years in jail, Judge Martin Nolan said the criminal had "no great difficulty using violence or the threat of violence."

Irish Independent

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