It's the stuff action movies are made of: two convicts escape jail in a helicopter, perilously clinging to a rope that hauls them from the prison grounds. But it's not a clip from the latest Bond film, it's footage from a real-life jailbreak in Quebec, Canada, shot by one of the prison guards who was unarmed and therefore could do nothing but watch the drama unfold.
The incident took place at the St-Jérôme prison on 17 March 2013, but surfaced recently during the trial of one of the two escapees. In the video, the two prisoners – Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau and Danny Provencal can be seen dangling from a rope, which was attached to a helicopter hijacked by two armed accomplices who forced a pilot to land on the prison's roof.
The helicopter eventually took off with the prisoners holding onto the rope. Provencal could be seen wrapping the rope around his feet as the helicopter left. The hijacked vehicle was eventually made to land and the four suspects escaped in a car, while the pilot was left unharmed. However, the prisoners' victory was short-lived and the pair – along with the two armed accomplices – were arrested close to the scene just hours later.
According to Yves Galarneau, the director of the provincial prison, guards are not armed. At least one of the accomplices could be seen holding a handgun in the video. The guards watched the entire escape through the security cameras.
Both of the prisoners later pleaded guilty to hijacking and the prison escape. The video surfaced during the trial of Hudon-Barbeau, who was serving time for murder when he attempted the prison break. "A mesh, a security mesh, could have been used on the court yard to prevent them from even attempting that escape," said prison security consultant Colin Lobo, according to a CTV News report.
"As soon as this type of incident occurs once, it should be treated as a top priority ... Having occurred twice within a short period of time, that really tells you that the officials need to do something about this. They need to treat this as a very serious issue to prevent this from happening again."
Lobo was referring to a second prison escape that occurred only 15 months after the St-Jérôme prison incident where a helicopter was used to carry three inmates out of Orsainville near Quebec City.
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