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An inmate who briefly escaped from New Brunswick prison was a violent career criminal

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HALIFAX – The inmate who briefly escaped from a New Brunswick prison over the weekend was Jermaine Carvery, a career criminal known for terrorizing robbery victims and escaping, Correctional Service Canada confirmed Thursday.

HALIFAX – The inmate who briefly escaped from a New Brunswick prison over the weekend was Jermaine Carvery, a career criminal known for terrorizing robbery victims and escaping, Correctional Service Canada confirmed Thursday.

However, that information was not made available to the public when the agency distributed a statement Sunday saying a man by a different name – Jermaine Browne – was missing from a minimum security unit at Dorchester Penitentiary at 8:35 p.m. Saturday and was arrested around 90 a.m. minutes later.

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

During a 2004 robbery at a Costco in Halifax, Carvery and his accomplices handcuffed about 40 employees as they arrived for work – in some cases covering their eyes with duct tape – and held them against their will for more than two hours .

A prosecutor later said the hostage-taking was an “act of urban terrorism.” And the presiding judge said Carvery's only regret was “getting caught”.

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 for several robberies in Ontario from 2006 to 2009.

Sophia Doiron, a spokeswoman for Correctional Service Canada, said the RCMP was contacted immediately after the agency learned an inmate was missing Saturday evening.

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

As for why Carvery was in a minimum-security unit, Doiron said inmates are moved to lower-security facilities as “progress is made in meeting the needs identified in their correctional plan.” That plan outlines what they need to do to address the factors that led to their criminal behavior, she said.

“Only those offenders who are determined to pose a low risk to public safety may be housed in a minimum security facility,” Doiron said.

“The environment of a minimum security facility is designed to develop an inmate's ability to function with minimal supervision. This plays a very important role in reintegrating offenders into the community and helping them become law-abiding citizens.”

Doiron said Carvery would soon undergo a new risk assessment.

Carvery gained national attention in April 2008 when he managed to slip out of double-locked ankle cuffs and escape from the back of a correctional van as he was being taken to a Halifax hospital. Although he was still handcuffed, he managed to elude a correctional officer after a ten-minute chase.

Investigators later found the leg irons – still locked – in or near the van. The police described him as dangerous at the time.

When asked at the time to explain what happened in the van, a provincial corrections officer said: “It's a mystery.” “I've never heard of anyone getting out of the shackles.”

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

The escape triggered a series of changes, including the Justice Department's decision to issue tenders for 200 tamper-proof restraints.

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

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

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press