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Public ‘owed an explanation’ over murderer’s prison escape: OBA

The Co-ed Correctional Facility in Ferry Reach, St George's (File photograph)

An investigation into the escape of a man jailed for murder must be made public, the Shadow Minister of National Security demanded yesterday afternoon.

Michael Dunkley branded the prison break on Wednesday by Antoine Anderson “totally unacceptable”.

A manhunt was sparked in the East End after Anderson escaped the Co-Ed prison near Ferry Reach in St George’s shortly before 3pm.

His capture was announced after midnight following an extensive search by police and Corrections officers.

It marked the facility’s second escape in a year, after a woman inmate broke out on October 21, 2021 – although she was back in custody after half an hour on the loose.

Mr Dunkley said that Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, along with the Department of Corrections, “owe the people of Bermuda an explanation”.

“How was Antoine Anderson able to escape from custody while at an East End correctional institution and how did he elude authorities for hours?” he said.

“How did this security breach occur? Was the escape abetted?

“This is totally unacceptable as it’s clear that someone or persons have dropped the ball.”

Mr Weeks is understood to be off the island at present, with Wayne Furbert standing in as acting minister.

Mr Dunkley said that the One Bermuda Alliance “believes that prisoners can and should be rehabilitated”.

But, he said, Anderson’s jail term for murder in 2009, and extra time behind bars for inflicting grievous bodily harm on another inmate, could not be ignored.

Mr Dunkley said that the escapee was “a repeat violent offender”, adding: ”No doubt his brief disappearance has caused angst in the community.

“The community needs to be assured that this won’t happen again and a full report on this concerning breach needs to be made public by the minister and Department of Corrections.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of National Security confirmed that an investigation into the escape from the prison farm facility was under way.

The spokesman added: “This will include not only the circumstances of the escape but the risk assessments and reviews that were done that enabled him to be transferred to and remain at the Farm facility, which is an earned privilege.

“Mr Anderson is currently in police custody and will be returned to Westgate in due course. We appreciate the public’s patience as we carry out this investigation.”

Derrick Burgess, a Progressive Labour Party MP and chairman of the parole board since 2021, said he had heard unofficially that Anderson could have been relocated to the Co-Ed facility for good behaviour.

“My understanding, but not officially, is that he had been a model prisoner,” Mr Burgess said.

“That’s what I had heard, although I don’t know how true that is.”

He said that Anderson had not appeared before the parole board during his tenure as chairman.

“The first time I saw his name was last night,” he added.

“If he was a model prisoner, they can go down there – they don’t have to go through parole. It’s normally when they will be becoming eligible for parole.

“They are recommended to go down there to transition. It’s not something that comes to us.”

Anderson attended a giveaway of traditional Bermuda kites to schoolchildren in 2017 as a member of the Lifeline prisoners’ group.

The outreach programme involved inmates attending a string of primary schools.

The programme is intended for inmates serving long sentences to make a positive contribution to the outside community.