Two prisoners in Canada have made an audacious, but short-lived, bid for freedom after being hoisted away in a helicopter reportedly commandeered by their accomplices.
In scenes reminiscent Hollywood film, the pair were spirited away in broad daylight on Sunday afternoon, only to be recaptured hours later along with two others.
According to CNN, two men posing as tourists hi-jacked a helicopter owned by a tour company and ordered the pilot to fly over the St Jerome prison near Montreal and used either cables or ropes to pick up the prisoners. According to reports, once airborne, the hijackers held a gun to the pilot’s head and ordered him to fly to the jail.
Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, 36 and Danny Provencal, 33, were recaptured after the helicopter was tracked to Mont Tremblant, about 53 miles from the prison.
A man claiming to be Hudon-Barbeau, who was in prison in connection with an attempted murder investigation, had called a Montreal radio station to explain his reasons for escaping.
“I know that it wasn’t the best thing to do, but I didn’t want to stay in prison anymore,” he told 98.5 FM. “It was not my idea to get away, but Danny convinced me, it was his friends who arranged it outside.”
The pilot, who is being treated as key witness, was found inside the abandoned helicopter but the men had fled in a white Cadillac. However, police tracked the car to a house in the town of Chersey where arrests were made, six hours after the escape.
Provencal, who was serving a seven-year sentence for various offences including arson, was not found at the house but was later detained in Chersey on Monday morning.
Yves Galarneau, the deputy director general of Correctional Services Western Quebec, admitted that the jail did not have a security protocol in place for such an event.
“As far as I know it’s a first in Quebec,” he said. “It’s exceptional.”