Dunkley appeals to escaped prisoner to turn himself in
A man who bolted out of Magistrates' Court on Friday after being sentenced to ten days in jail is still on the run.
Howard Ascento, of Smith's, was able to flee the building after being sentenced for driving while disqualified.
The 25-year-old was chased by a police officer but managed to outrun her and slip through security officers protecting the main entrance.
A police spokesman this afternoon confirmed that Ascento remained at large and that a police search was continuing. The spokesman also advised that Ascento is not regarded as a threat to the public.
“Anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Mr Ascento is encouraged to contact the main police telephone number 295-0011 at the earliest opportunity,” the spokesman said.
“The public is reminded that harbouring a fugitive is an offence punishable under the law.”
Last night Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley issued a personal appeal to Ascento to turn himself in.
And he suggested that police should carry out a review of security at the building so that “any gaps can be plugged”.
“I was very surprised to learn what happened in court on Friday, particularly considering this was a relatively minor matter,” Mr Dunkley said.
“At this time our first concern has to be that this man is apprehended. Although he does not represent a threat to the public, it is important that justice is done.
“This is a young individual who probably had a rush of blood. He did something illogical and turned it into a much more serious situation than it was, and he probably regrets that now.
“But now is the time to do the right thing, to stand up and face the consequences of his actions. He's a young person and can still turn around his life if he faces up to the challenge that he has. We all make silly mistakes but the challenge is to face those head on.”
Asked about a review of potential security lapses at the building, Mr Dunkley said that police would have to review the matter.
“It's my understanding that, once a person is sentenced, they are turned over to the police, and I'm sure the police will be looking into this matter to see how it was allowed to occur, but I think that is a question best left to them,” he said.
“People are very concerned about crime and safety in general, but one of the things I want to make sure we get right is the balance between making sure justice is done and people are protected, with costs involved.”
Shadow Public Safety Minister Michael Scott echoed that view, pointing out that escapes are extremely rare.
“Security in Bermuda's Courts was improved as a direct response to the spike in violent crime many years ago,” Mr Scott said.
“It came with the policy to make the court environment safe and secure for judges, staff and the public, during appearances of any accused, particularly during high profile cases.
“The security improvements have worked very well and Bermudian staff and security details at the doors of all of our courts have done a very good job in effecting their mandate.
“The Ascento incident, while noted and regretted, is not common and a first of escaping from court precincts. It will, I am sure, prove a learning experience, resulting in those delivering court security looking at prevention models. This would be the appropriate security response.”