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Derek Brockwell: Search for 'violent, hardened criminal' continues, as Minister orders full report

The two prison officers stabbed by Brockwell as he made his escape are said to be recovering well in hospital.

Updated 12.40pm 

THE HEAD OF the Prison Officers Association says that questions need to be asked about the escape of a prisoner from custody yesterday.

Derek Brockwell (53), a UK national, had been serving a seven-year sentence at Portlaoise prison for robbery and possession of firearms.

He escaped yesterday, stabbing two prison officers while being brought to Tallaght Hospital. He fled the area on a waiting motorbike.

In the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, has sought a full report on the incident and expressed sympathy over the stabbing of the two prisoner officers.

“They’ve shown great courage in dealing with some very difficult situations,” Kenny told the Dáil while denying that the escape was a result of cutbacks.

Earlier, speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Stephen Delaney said that Brockwell was a “violent” criminal.

This event highlights the dangerous job of the prison officer. These officers faced a violent, hardened criminal with a lethal weapon who was trying to escape.The advice from the gardaí to the public is not to approach a man.

He said that the planning of the escape was “meticulous” and it had raised questions on the arrangements of the escort.

“We are requesting a complete review of all prison escorts. He was in a maximum security prison, with army personnel on the walls, yet he was sent with three unarmed prison officers for a regular hospital

He said that Brockwell was handcuffed, but the stabbing occurred inside the hospital after a “violent struggle” with officers.

Brockwell had an armed Garda escort until last year, and Delaney said that his incarceration in Portlaoise, coupled with his record, indicated a “dangerous, violent criminal”.

He said that there were “less and less” armed Garda escorts leaving Portlaoise Prison.

Routine

Retired Detective Chief Superintendent John O’Brien — who worked as a garda in the Portlaoise area, and with Interpol — said routine was an enemy of any security operation.

The predictability thing is something you would look at very, very clearly because this was an individual who is — as you can see now in his publicly available profile — someone with a previous history of violence, previous history of escape and previous history or armed and violent crime.

He said that in terms of the search operation, Interpol would play a role circulating information worldwide.

“But, you know, criminals — and I’m sure this guy is no different — are creatures of habit. They tend to return to the same nest that they’ve been before,” he told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke. 

O’Brien said the criminal clearly had “someone looking after him” based on the manner in which he’d made his escape.

Recovering

Both prison officers are said to be recovering this morning, having undergone surgery last night.

Gardaí are appealing for information on Brockwell’s whereabouts, and have released the above image.

Brockwell is described as being 6’03’’ tall with brown hair and broad build.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Tallaght Garda Station on 01- 6666000, the Garda Confidential Telephone Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

- additional reporting from Daragh Brophy and Hugh O’Connell 

Read: Manhunt: Gardaí search for dangerous escaped prisoner Derek Brockwell after hospital attack

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