herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Fugitive Brockwell is tasered and arrested at Belfast pub two days after hospital escape

ESCAPED prisoner Derek Brockwell remains in hospital today after being tasered by police in Belfast and recaptured.

Armed PSNI officers subdued the violent criminal when he failed to drop a knife.

He robbed three shops in Belfast before his two-day crime spree was brought to a halt late last night.

It is believed Brockwell (53) crossed the border via back roads on a motorbike after his violent escape from Tallaght Hospital on Tuesday when he stabbed two prison officers.

Last night's arrest took place outside Wetherspoon's Bridge House pub opposite the BBC in Belfast's Bedford Street.

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It is believed Brockwell stabbed himself before being arrested.

Witness James Keaveny described the drama around Brockwell's capture.

"I was coming down into the city centre at the time and I was on the other side of the road when I heard a bit of commotion," he said.

"I looked across and three police cars had pulled up and a group of policemen, around five or six, were surrounding this guy just outside the pub.

"There was a lot of commotion. The guy seemed to have some kind of weapon," he added.

"The police used a Taser and were shouting, 'Have you anything else on you?'. The tables and chairs were knocked over and they arrested him on the ground," James explained.

"It was all over in a minute and a half. I was quite surprised to see the Taser gun but I think it was because he had the weapon and he wasn't dropping it. It was a swift operation."

Brockwell was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital where he was in a stable condition and being kept under armed observation.

His detention in the North could mean he may not be transferred back to the Republic to serve the remainder of his seven-year sentence for four armed robberies in Dublin.

This is because UK authorities want him there to serve a life sentence for armed robberies after he absconded from a prison in Lancashire while on day release.

Gardai may have to seek a European Arrest Warrant to get him returned to the State to serve out the remainder of his sentence as well as being tried for Tuesday's incident in Tallaght.

Gardai never provided an armed escort for Brockwell, despite it being requested on multiple occasions over an eight-month period.

Prison bosses received "definite and specific intelligence" in May 2013 that Brockwell was planning an escape.

He was moved from Cloverhill Prison, where he had been on remand, to Ireland's highest security jail in Portlaoise.

Jail bosses decided to request an armed escort any time he left prison for appointments, but this was never provided.

The Herald has learned that on the four occasions he left Portlaoise Prison between May 2013 and January 2014, an armed escort wasn't provided.

It is understood that the prison service stopped requesting an armed escort for him in January last year.

The dangerous prisoner had four uneventful hospital appointments since then before he was taken back to Tallaght Hospital on Tuesday.

There in a toilet in the diabetic unit, Brockwell produced a knife which is believed to have been left for him by an accomplice.

He stabbed two prison officers, Dan Buckley and Graham Flynn, who are both making good recoveries from their injuries.

The fugitive then ran out of the hospital and was driven away on a motorbike by an accomplice.

kfoy@herald.ie

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