We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

AP Photo/PA Images
Great Escape

TG4 to document Limerick man's help in KGB agent's prison break

Ex-British spy George Blake was sentenced to 42 years in prison after being convicted of spying for the Soviets during the Cold War.

A NEW EPISODE in the TG4 series documenting famous prison escapes is to look at the daring prison break of KGB agent George Blake – with the help of Limerick man Séan Bourke.

Double agent Blake was serving a 42-year sentence – the longest handed down by a British court – at Wormwood Scrubs in London and escaped from the facility in 1966 after serving five years. He was accused of providing the names of dozens of British agents to the Soviets, some of whom subsequently disappeared.

He was not being held under high security at the prison, according to this BBC report, and had been removed from a watch list of possible escapees after just a year in prison.

Blake was last seen by wardens at the evening roll call at 5.30pm and by 7pm his cell was discovered to be empty.

Limerick man Séan Bourke told TG4′s Éalú that Blake approached him and asked for help to escape. Bourke was serving a seven-year sentence at the time for sending a letter bomb to a police officer. He says he began planning Blake’s escape with another former prisoner Michael Randle when he himself was released.

Bourke says he saw the prison break as an act of revenge against ‘the establishment’ for his childhood at the Daingean Reformatory School.

Blake and Bourke communicated every night via walkie-talkies to put together the details of their plan.

After Bourke managed to help Burke out of the prison, he says the pair hid from police in a bedsit just half a mile from the prison. Blake eventually escaped to Russia via campervan, where he now lives.

Randle later told the BBC that Blake was very quiet and so well-behaved in prison that prison officers used to point to him as an example of good behaviour to other inmates.

The third series of TG4′s Éalú documents six prison breaks, starting on 16 February at 10.30pm with Blake’s successful escape. Here’s a preview of that first episode:

(Video via magamedia)

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.