Inmate who briefly escaped from New Brunswick prison was violent career criminal with ties to N.S.

By Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

The inmate who briefly escaped from a New Brunswick prison on the weekend was Jermaine Carvery, a career criminal known for terrorizing robbery victims and attempting to flee custody, Correctional Service Canada confirmed Thursday.

But that information was not released to the public when the agency distributed a statement Sunday saying a man with another name — Jermaine Browne — was unaccounted for inside a minimum-security unit at Dorchester Penitentiary on Saturday at 8:35 p.m. and was arrested about 90 minutes later.

On Thursday, the agency confirmed the inmate in question was known as Jermaine Carvery 10 years ago when he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for a series of violent heists across Nova Scotia between 2004 and 2006.

During a 2004 holdup of a Costco in Halifax, Carvery and his accomplices bound about 40 employees as they arrived for work — in some cases using duct tape to cover their eyes — and held them against their will for more than two hours.

A Crown attorney later said the hostage-taking was an “act of urban terrorism.” And the presiding judge said Carvery’s only regret was “being busted.”

In May 2013 Carvery was convicted of attempted murder, robbery and forcible confinement, and his sentence was added to the 16 years he had remaining on sentences received for several robberies in Ontario from 2006 to 2009.

Sophia Doiron, a spokesperson for Correctional Service Canada, said immediately after the agency became aware an inmate was missing on Saturday night, the RCMP were contacted.

More than an hour later, the RCMP posted a message on X, formerly known as Twitter, asking the public to avoid their “police operation” in the Dorchester area. The message said nothing about the inmate in question.

As for why Carvery was serving time in a minimum security unit, Doiron said inmates are transferred to lower-security facilities when “progress is made in addressing the needs identified in their correctional plan.” That plan spells out what they must do to address the factors that led to their criminal behaviour, she said.

“Only those offenders who are assessed as having a low risk to public safety can be placed in a minimum-security institution,” Doiron said.

“The environment of a minimum-security institution is intended to develop an inmate’s capacity to operate with minimal monitoring. This plays a very important role in the process of reintegrating offenders back into the community and helping them become law-abiding citizens.”

Doiron said Carvery will soon be subjected to a new risk assessment.

Carvery attracted national attention in April 2008 when he managed to slip out of double-locked leg irons and flee from the back of a corrections van as he was being escorted to a Halifax hospital. Though he was still in handcuffs, he managed to outrun a corrections officer after a 10-minute foot chase.

Investigators later found the leg irons — still locked — in or near the van. At the time, police described him as dangerous.

When asked at the time to explain what happened inside the van, a provincial corrections official said: ”It’s a mystery. I’ve never heard of anyone getting out of leg irons before.”

Carvery was captured about two months later in Niagara Falls, Ont.

The escape sparked a series of changes, including the Justice Department’s decision to issue tenders for 200 tamper-proof shackles.

In June 2010, Carvery tried to escape from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility by breaking through a ceiling in the Halifax-area jail. And in 1998, he escaped from a minimum-security federal prison after just two days inside, evading capture for six weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2024.

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