Escape of 2 men from jail went undetected for more than an hour

·3 min read

An escape by two P.E.I. inmates from the provincial jail was planned ahead of time, and went undetected by jail staff for more than an hour.

Details of the April 12 incident were presented Wednesday in P.E.I. Supreme Court, where one of the men, Murray James Todd, 31, of Charlottetown, pleaded guilty to breaking out of jail with use of force.

Crown prosecutor Nathan Beck told court what happened the night of the escape, and of efforts by the two men to make plans beforehand.

That planning included phone calls made by the two men, the day before the jail break, and in the hours leading up to it, to have a vehicle waiting for them outside the jail.

Court heard that the other man, Brandon Jeffery Quinn, phoned his girlfriend around 8 p.m. the night of the jail break, and told her where to park a car.

Escape through smashed window

The escape took place while jail staff were distributing "evening medications to inmates," Beck told court, "sometime after 9:30 to 9:45."

The men used a piece of metal to smash a window in Todd's jail cell, then climbed through the hole.

No vehicle was waiting for them, so the men took off into nearby woods. After wandering into a swamp, the men "went back the way they came and walked down a road," Beck told court.

Jail staff discovered the inmates missing around 11 p.m. and called Queens District RCMP.

Only the two missing prisoners were in the area of the jail where the escape took place, Beck told court, and "there was no danger of others escaping."

Search extends to next day

RCMP used a tracking dog, aerial drone and police cruisers that night to search for the escaped men, without success.

That night and the following day, police received tips from the public.

Around 4 p.m, Charlottetown police found Todd in a room at a local hotel and placed him under arrest.

Quinn was taken into custody at his girlfriend's house.

Todd wanted to clarify a detail for the court after the crown prosecutor finished speaking.

"There was a phone call made that we knew there was no one there to pick us up.We knew the car wouldn't be there," Todd told court.

The prosecutor agreed and told court it made no difference to the Crown's case against them.

Co-accused already sentenced

Court also heard that Todd has a long criminal record, including drug trafficking and robbery.

The other man, Quinn, pleaded guilty last month and was sentenced to one year in jail.

Defence lawyer Thane MacEachern told court that the Crown and defence may be making a joint recommendation on sentencing for Todd.

Justice Nancy Key adjourned the matter to Nov. 19 for sentencing.

The Department of Justice tells CBC News it has conducted an internal review of the incident and would not be releasing any details for security reasons.

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