‘Why was this criminal on day release?’

Derek Brockwell, 53, who previously went on the run from Kirkham prison, stabbed two police officers as he escaped from an Irish hospital.
Derek Brockwell, 53, who previously went on the run from Kirkham prison, stabbed two police officers as he escaped from an Irish hospital.
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A dangerous and violent criminal who once absconded from Kirkham prison has been caught by police in Northern Ireland after going on the run again.

A major manhunt was launched to find Derek Brockwell, 53, who failed to return from day release on the Fylde coast back in February 2012 before going on to commit a string of violent offences.

And after it emerged he stabbed two police officers in his latest bid for freedom, calls have been made for a review of the vetting procedure for inmates at Kirkham.

On Tuesday afternoon, Brockwell escaped from an Irish hospital, where he was being guarded by police. He was arrested just over 24 hours later after being tasered by police in Belfast.

He was jailed for seven years for a string of offences in Dublin after being caught in the Irish capital in October 2012.

Coun Liz Oades, who represents Kirkham at a town, borough and county council level, said: “I really do believe the vetting procedure should be looked at again to make sure it is fit for purpose.

“We have been given assurances we will not have dangerous persons out on day release. I am concerned that one seems to have slipped through the net.”

Despite being handed a life sentence for a string of armed robberies in the UK, he was allowed out on day release on the Fylde coast.

He is the prime suspect for an attempted bank raid in St Annes shortly after his escape, which saw him go on the run for eight months before he resurfaced in Ireland, where he was linked to a string of violent offences.

But despite being arrested by Irish authorities in October 2012 for an armed robbery in Dublin, nobody has ever been charged over the incident at NatWest, on St Annes Road West on February 28.

Brockwell escaped from custody once again after assaulting two police officers who were guarding him in an Irish hospital.

The prisoner, who ended up in the country after failing to return from day release at Kirkham prison, was being escorted to Tallaght Hospital in south Dublin when he escaped this time.

One of the prison officers with him was stabbed with a knife in the stomach and underwent emergency surgery for his serious injuries.

Another officer was stabbed in the hand and possibly the face or neck during the incident at around 3pm on Tuesday. A third prison officer was unharmed but left badly shaken.

It is believed Brockwell, a British national who was handed 22 life sentences in the UK for armed robbery and appeared as a wanted man on BBC’s Crimewatch, was picked up by an accomplice waiting for him with a getaway vehicle nearby.

The serial criminal was two years into a seven-year sentence for armed robbery after he admitted holding up the Bank of Ireland in Blackrock, south Dublin, in October 2012.

He was also convicted of robbing a post office and a bookmakers as well as for firearms offences in the Irish capital.

Described as being 6ft 3ins with brown hair and a broad build, it is believed he has links with London, Glasgow and Ireland.

Lancashire Police confirmed Brockwell is still being linked to the NatWest raid in 2012. A spokesman said: “He was not dealt with for that offence. Nobody has been charged or arrested in relation to the incident.”

At the time, police on the Fylde coast warned Brockwell was “dangerous” even though nobody was hurt in that particular offence.

When asked by The Gazette why a dangerous criminal was allowed out on day release from Kirkham prison, the Ministry of Justice said it was unable to comment while the search for Brockwell was ongoing.