Gardaí hunt for two missing Castlerea inmates
GARDAÍ were searching last night for two brothers who escaped from Castlerea Prison in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Prison sources identified the men as Toader Feier (23) and his brother Vasile (29), who are originally from Romania.
They were arrested in Galway last year in connection with the theft of money from parking meters in the city and given sentences of just under two years.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the men may have been assisted in their escape and that he had requested a detailed report into the incident.
“Of course, no one should escape from any prison in the country,” he said.
“Unfortunately an event like this is a matter of concern but these aren’t individuals who pose any physical risk, as far as I am aware, to anyone and I know the Garda are doing what they can to recapture the two individuals.”
An Irish Prison Service spokesman said the men were last seen in Castlerea Prison at about 11.30pm on Sunday. They were reported as being “unaccounted for” at about 6.30am yesterday.
Gardaí at Castlerea were informed of the development a short time later. A search of the prison grounds was conducted once their disappearance was noticed.
A prison source said that a note saying “sorry, we had no choice” was found in the room in which one of the men was staying.
The men were due to be released from prison next April. It is understood that one of them had been served with a notice of intent to remove him from the State by the Department of Justice.
They were being detained in the semi-open Grove residential area rather than in cells within the main prison.
The Grove, which holds 55 inmates and previously housed IRA prisoners, is a lower security unit of about 10 houses on a three- to four-acre site. It is surrounded by a wire fence and that section of the campus is surrounded by the perimeter wall of the prison proper.
The men appear to have scaled both the 30ft high metal wire fence around the Grove section of the jail and then the 30ft perimeter wall surrounding the campus.
Gardaí and the Irish Prison Service are trying to establish if the men had outside assistance in climbing the wall.
“You wouldn’t do it on your own, they must have had somebody who threw something over the wall to them like a rope or something that helped them get out,” said one source.
Immediately after their disappearance was noticed, gardaí established road blocks in the area, although the men could have been driven to any part of the country at that stage.
John Clinton, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said a trust system operated in semi-open facilities and that inmates would have been assessed before being moved into accommodation like the Grove.
The next step for prisoners housed in semi-open facilities was temporary release, he said.
Mr Clinton said it was unfortunate that the trust placed in these inmates have been “betrayed” but he said there had only been one “high-profile” escape this year.
In that instance, Mr Shatter had to apologise to the family of Garda Gary McLoughlin after the man who killed him, Martin McDermott (25), absconded from the Loughan House open prison in Blacklion, Co Cavan.
McDermott was found in Derry the following day.