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Irish Prison Service

Fugitive prisoner stabbed himself in stomach as police approached

He is suspected of carrying out two armed robberies while on the run from police.

Updated 16.35pm

ESCAPED PRISONER DEREK Brockwell is suspected of carrying out two armed robberies while on the run from police.

Yesterday evening, between approximately 5.45pm and just after 6.00pm, two armed robberies were reported to police, one in the Howard Street area and one in the Dublin Road area of Belfast.

Police in Northern Ireland said the suspect in both instances was described as being armed with a knife.

Briefing the media today on the capture of escaped prisoner Derek Brockwell, Superintendent Paula Hilman said their investigations in to the two armed robberies led to local police officers identifying Brockwell outside a licensed premises on Bedford Street.

They kept a watch on the individual until colleagues from the Armed Response Unit arrived. The Armed Response Units were deployed, as they approached the male, he proceeded to harm himself and a taser was used to detain the male.

Brockwell was detained at around 7pm yesterday evening. 

An eyewitness told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that about five or six police officers surrounded the man who was sitting outside the Bridge House pub in the city centre.

The witness said that Brockwell appeared to be holding a weapon and a struggle ensued. He was then tasered and put to the ground. The prisoner was taken to hospital after the arrest.

No other persons were arrested by officers as part of the operation.

Detective Sergeant Kenneth Leckley from the PSNI 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.

Giving more details on the arrest in a separate statement, Superintendent Darrin Jones said that as police approached Brockwell “he produced a knife and proceeded to stab himself in the abdomen”.

“To ensure no further injuries were caused to the man or others Police discharged a taser. He was then taken to hospital for treatment.

“As is normal procedure in such circumstances Police have self-referred to the Police Ombudsman’s office.”

Superintendent Hilman said she wanted to recognise the good work of the response officers and the Armed Response Unit.

The actions of these officers has also ensured that the wider community in Belfast remained safe.

She issued an appeal to anyone who may have witnessed the incidents in Howard Street and on the Dublin Road to contact detectives at Musgrave Street Police Station.

Brockwell escaped from custody on Tuesday during a scheduled visit to Tallaght Hospital, stabbing two prison officers and fleeing on a motorbike.

The Minister for Justice has ordered a report into the incident.

Brockwell, described as as a ‘violent, hardened prisoner’, was serving a seven-year sentence at Portlaoise prison for robbery and possession of firearms.

He had previously escaped from custody in the United Kingdom, where he was serving several life sentences for armed robbery.

Brockwell had an armed Garda escort until last year.

Both prison officers injured in Tuesday’s escape are recovering from their injuries, having undergone surgery that night.

- With reporting from Rónán Duffy, Daragh Brophy, Christina Finn.

Read: Why wasn’t a prisoner on the run from the UK sent back there when he was arrested? >

“There was blood everywhere”: Eyewitness describes Derek Brockwell’s escape from Tallaght Hospital >

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