herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

'Jailbreak' foiled as knife found in hospital toilets

prisons

A knife found in a toilet at Tallaght Hospital while a prisoner transfer was taking place
A knife found in a toilet at Tallaght Hospital while a prisoner transfer was taking place

This potentially-lethal kitchen knife was found in the toilets of Tallaght Hospital as a prisoner was being treated nearby.

Sources believe a prisoner may have been planning an escape in a similar fashion to dangerous robber Derek Brockwell, who fled the hospital last February after stabbing two prison officers while on escort from jail for a medical appointment.

The knife found yesterday has a blade between six and eight inches long and was found by hospital staff while a prisoner was on escort from a Dublin jail.

Security sources said the inmate in the hospital at the time of the find had been brought there after complaining of abdominal pains.

Anti-stab

The prison staff were only issued with anti-stab vests after the discovery of the knife.

The Irish Prison Service and the gardai were immediately notified of the find.

Only last week the Prison Officers' Association (POA) appealed for anti-stab vests to be issued to all prison staff and not just those escorting inmates.

They were critical of Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald when she told the Association's annual conference that 160 anti-stab vests would be distributed to staff who escort dangerous prisoners.

POA president Stephen Delaney said the number of anti-stab vests being issued was too low.

"Just 160 vests for 3,500 staff, 11 per institution. It is not enough," he said.

Today the deputy general secretary of the POA, Jim Mitchell, said the discovery of the knife yesterday causes major concerns.

"This further supports our very real fears that the use of knives is becoming more prevalent and is viewed by criminals as a legitimate tool to use against prison officers," he said.

The discovery of the knife and the location of the prisoner can not yet be definitively linked.

Investigators are seeking to establish if the prisoner who was in the hospital at the time, or another inmate in the future, may have been planning a 'Brockwell style' escape.

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