An internal review has been launched into how an inmate at the Brandon Correctional Centre could have escaped without any security personnel noticing he was gone until he was picked up by police more than five hours later in another province.
"We’re going to be conducting an internal review and, in fact, that has already started to determine (how the prisoner could be missing for five hours)," said Greg Skelly, executive director of adult custody for Manitoba Justice.
Skelly was tight-lipped about the escape, but a source close to the investigation confirmed the inmate was 27-year-old Kevin Olney.
"We need to review video, talk to folks, and check our policies and procedures," Skelly said. "It would be preliminary for us to say definitely what happened and how it happened. We need to go through our process first."
According to Brandon police, the jail only found out about the escape when RCMP, who arrested the inmate in Saskatchewan on Monday, called to ask if they were missing someone.
"The information that I have is that the jail was contacted by the Oxbow RCMP, inquiring whether or not one of their inmates was in custody," Brandon Police Service Staff Sgt. Larry Yanick told the Brandon Sun on Monday evening.
Yanick provided the following summary of the escape based on the Brandon police reports. Jail officials refused to comment on the nature of the escape.
Yanick said that it appears that Olney escaped around 3 a.m. on Monday.
He was being held in the jail’s gym at the time, and walked through a door that had been propped open for ventilation.
He then scaled a building to a small hole in the razor wire between the fence and the building.
Once on the roof, he made his way to the front of the building and jumped to the ground.
The inmate then used a set of keys, which had been stolen earlier from a maintenance office, to steal a Manitoba government pickup truck from the parking lot.
He then made his way to Saskatchewan, where he was arrested by Oxbow RCMP after a citizen made a complaint.
Yanick said RCMP called the Brandon jail around 8 a.m. on Monday to ask if they were missing an inmate and supplied the name of their arrestee.
"The jail quickly found out that the person ... in custody was indeed an inmate from their facility," Yanick said. "Through their own investigation, they found that he had escaped sometime during the night ... shortly after 3 a.m., without being noticed."
The inmate had significant injuries to his feet and back, apparently suffered when he jumped from the roof of the jail building, and he was sent to hospital in Regina.
According to an RCMP report from March 2014, Olney was arrested and charged with several offences, including armed robbery, impaired driving and flight from police stemming from several incidents near Melita.
On March 11, a man wearing a white ski mask and armed with a rifle, demanded cash from a store in Melita. He threatened an employee, then fled in a pickup truck after taking an undisclosed amount of money.
The following day, while RCMP were still investigating the armed robbery, they received a call about a gas-and-dash theft, where the description of the pickup matched the one from the night before.
After spotting the truck in Melita, officers tried to pull it over but the man took off, leading police on a chase on rural highways and roads into Saskatchewan.
Despite using a spike belt — which blew out three of the truck’s tires — the suspect managed to drive on three rims for about half an hour. Finally, with help from Carnduff RCMP, the suspect was brought to ground after he tried to drive around a police blockade on Highway 8 in Saskatchewan.
At that point, the truck ended up in a snow-filled ditch, and the man behind the wheel was arrested.
Police say that the truck, a 2007 Ford F-350, and the firearm used in the robbery both turned out to have been stolen. The truck had originally been taken from Saskatoon.
Olney, who is from Estevan, Sask., was charged. However, the Brandon Sun couldn’t confirm if he was in jail as a direct result of those incidents.
As a result of his latest escapade, Olney was charged with escaping lawful custody and theft of a motor vehicle.
Skelly said the review could take some time, adding "we want to make sure we do it right, not quickly."
The jail has been using the gym for a number of years as a living unit due to overcrowding, he said.
There are currently 296 inmates at the medium-security facility, which has a capacity of 252 inmates.
"We take these incidents very seriously," Skelly said. "Keeping people behind bars and within our facilities is one of the main things that we need to do."
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