Security had been relaxed for criminal before escape
A CAREER criminal who escaped from custody after stabbing two prison officers during a hospital visit was never allowed out of jail without an armed guard until last year.
Derek Brockwell (53) is a notorious bank robber who previously escaped jail in the UK and was considered one of Britain's most wanted criminals.
He remains on the run today after a knife attack that left one prison officer needing emergency surgery at Tallaght Hospital and a second seriously injured.
All airport and harbour authorities have also been alerted.
Gardai have warned members of the public not to approach the Glasgow native as he is considered "extremely violent". He was previously sentenced to 22 life sentences for armed robberies in the UK.
His audacious escape which unfolded in the toilet of the diabetic treatment unit of the hospital appears to have been well-planned and has raised serious questions for the Prison Service.
He was escorted from the maximum security prison in Portlaoise yesterday to Tallaght by three officers, including a driver.
Speaking on RTE's 'Morning Ireland' programme this morning, President of the Prison Officers' Association Stephen Carey confirmed that the prisoner was handcuffed as he was brought into the hospital.
"As I understand the stabbing occurred just inside the hospital and he made good his escape following a violent struggle with the officers concerned," he said.
He agreed that the Brockwell stabbed both officers in order to get the handcuffs off.
The Prison Officers Association told the Irish Independent that until last year Brockwell would never leave the prison complex without armed police escorts.
He was classified as a high security risk because of his history of escaping and propensity for violence.
Assistant General Secretary of the POA Gabriel Keavney said that they would be demanding an urgent meeting with the Prison Service to discuss the dramatic incident.
"We will want to know why the security status of this escort was changed and why our colleagues were put in the way of danger which resulted in them being stabbed," he said.
Brockwell had been into the unit by two of the prison officers at 3.45pm yesterday and produced a knife as they took off his handcuffs.
Prison officer Dan Buckley required life-saving surgery for stab wounds to his stomach, while officer Graham Flynn suffered less serious injuries after he was stabbed in the hand and back.
Brockwell made his escape by running through the hospital to an accomplice who was waiting for him on a motorbike which sped off. It was last seen turning onto the Tallaght by-pass.
Gardai under the command of Detective Superintendent Brian Sutton immediately launched a massive manhunt.
Authorities in the UK have also been notified of the escape in case he attempts to return home.
The convict was serving a seven-year sentence in Portlaoise for a series of armed robberies he committed while on the run here in Ireland.
In 2000, Brockwell was given 22 life sentences after he travelled from Glasgow to London to raise cash through a series of armed robberies.
The then 38-year-old had pleaded guilty to 11 charges of possessing a firearm while raiding bookmakers, off-licences and a building society over a three-week period.
His trial in the Old Bailey heard that he had netted only £1,500. During his robberies in central and west London, he didn't cover his face and was caught on CCTV.
In 1988, Brockwell had also been jailed for 10 years in Glasgow for an armed raid on a building society.
In February 2012 - after 12 years behind bars - he was granted day release for a work-placement programme but absconded to Ireland. In October that year he was arrested following armed hold-ups.