Five of the eight men who made a daring dash for freedom from the Golden Grove Remand Yard in Arouca were recaptured by a joint team of army, police and prison officers shortly before 7 pm yesterday.
The men, according to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, were all held in the Las Lomas area following information the authorities had received.
The captured men were identified as Brent Johnson, Mikhale Mohammed, Kerry Valentino, Joshua Janet and Steffon Austin. All were accused of murder.
The men had squeezed through a 12-inch hole after removing a brick from cell six, which is located at the upper south wing of Remand Yard and allegedly used a hacksaw to cut through two of several steel bars used to secure the ventilation opening. It is believed they did this sometime between Tuesday night and early yesterday morning.
Prison Commissioner Gerard Wilson confirmed to Guardian Media how the men were able to make their escape and said a full investigation had already been initiated to not only find out how they escaped but how they came into possession of the hacksaw.
The search for the men involved a joint team of heavily armed police, prison officers and soldiers who spent most of the day combing several areas of Bon Air and Arouca in search of the men.
During the search, a helicopter attached to the National Helicopter Services Limited that was providing aerial assistance crashed close to 1.10 pm in a clearing in the Windy Hill, Arouca area, just a quarter mile off the Arima Old Road. The pilot and two passengers, a police officer and prison officer, escaped unhurt. (See Page A5).
Last night, Senior Superintendent of the Northern Division Mc Donald Jacob commended his officers and other arms of law enforcement for their role in the capture of the five escapees.
“We are using all the technology before us to assist us with the support of our helicopter and drones in order to locate the other three persons,” McDonald told the media.
The three men who remain at large are murder accused Olatungi Denbow and Michael Findley, along with Atiba Sealey, was incarcerated on charges of aggravated robbery.
Acting Superintendent Brandon John of the Northern Division, who has been co-ordinating the operational side of the search, said the pictures of the three men who are still at large had been circulated islandwide.
“We have information that the men are still in this area (Las Lomas) and all eight of them were together in a house. The officers received the information and went to the location and arrested five and locked down the area. We are going to continue into the night until we have them in custody,” he said.
Following his escape, Denbow posted a message on social media claiming he was set up by a state witness in two murder cases and would only surrender if Police Commissioner Gary Griffith and the Director of Public Prosecutions investigated his claims.
Up to press time, law enforcement officials were still in the Las Lomas area searching for the three escapees, who were considered armed and dangerous.
- Mark Bassant. Photo by Abraham Diaz.