Second Regional Psychiatric Centre escapee arrested after highway chase

Documents from the Parole Board of Canada show 24-year-old Matthew Michel, who was recaptured Thursday after escaping from Saskatoon's Regional Psychiatric Centre the day before, has lived a life full of violence and crime.

Michel and 29-year-old Kendal Campeau escaped from the Psychiatric Centre, an institution for inmates dealing with mental illness, on Wednesday.

Campeau was arrested Thursday morning and appeared in provincial court. He is set to return Nov. 26.

RCMP said Thursday they had arrested Michel around 2 p.m. CST at Sunset Estates, just east of Saskatoon.

RCMP say that Michel stole a truck in Warman and then drove to Humboldt, where he was spotted by officers. He fled toward Saskatoon on Highway #5 but ran out of gas just outside the city, RCMP said.

He then walked into Sunset Estates, a trailer park on the eastern edge of Saskatoon, RCMP said, where he evaded police until they cornered him on the top of a trailer and he gave up.

Michel was serving a sentence of six years and eight months for charges including assaulting a peace officer, assault with a weapon, obstructing a peace officer, weapons charges and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, among many others.

In September, the parole board revoked his conditions for statutory release into the community, concerned that Michel was too much of a risk to the community.

"Your institutional behaviour further demonstrates ongoing propensity for violence and you have outstanding charges which are yet to be dealt with," the parole board report says.

"Despite program interventions and being afforded opportunities to change, you remain assessed as a maximum security offender."

After a troubled childhood, Michel has been in either youth or federal custody for most of his life.

Since he began serving time as an adult, he has managed to rack up a lengthy list of serious crimes. In 2015, he attacked a fellow inmate and stabbed him ten times with a homemade knife, then stomped on his back and head.

Since 2017, Michel has been involved in more than 20 offences in prison, including assaulting a guard and including correctional centre staff.

Just a few months ago, Michel was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while staying in a Community Correctional Centre. While a court date has not been set yet, police said he was found to be driving a vehicle erratically, smashing into parked vehicles, driving through private property and placing innocent people in danger.

The board notes that Michel has shown interest in speaking to elders and turning away from organized crime.

"You stated that your desire to avoid the gang is so strong that, as you stated in the post suspension interview, you will stab anyone if you are placed in an institution in the Prairie Region," the report says.

The board noted that Michel had difficulty receiving psychiatric medications, which led to his deterioration.

"You believe that the dosage is not strong enough, noting that into the evening you start to feel agitated and angry," read the report.

"You have told this to the institutional physician but nothing has been changed."

It found that Michel was also a danger to himself and had harmed himself on more than one occasion.

While Michel reached statutory release in September, the board felt that it was too risky to grant a total release, ordering that he live in a correctional community centre or other home approved by Corrections Canada.

Serious issue

While the Regional Psychiatric Centre would not discuss any details of the escape, officials were quick to point out that they are taking the issue very seriously.   "The safety and security of the institution and the surrounding community is our number one priority when we have incidents like this," said assistant warden Tim Krause.

"We'll definitely be providing all the appropriate reviews and and work to make sure that we can find out what we can about this incident and hopefully stop anything like this from happening in the future."

The Regional Psychiatric Centre was built in 1978 and can house inmates with severe mental health issues. As a result, security around the institution is tight, with multiple walls of high fences.

While he couldn't confirm that this was the first escape from the centre, Krause said he had never heard of one before this.

The Correctional Service of Canada says it is investigating the circumstances of the incident and is working with police.