A manhunt is under way for a notorious prisoner after he allegedly stabbed two prison officers and fled from a hospital in Ireland.
Derek Brockwell, 53, was being taken to Tallaght Hospital in south Dublin from high security Portlaoise Prison for a medical appointment when he made his reportedly violent escape.
One of the prison officers accompanying him was stabbed with a knife in the stomach and is undergoing emergency surgery for his serious injuries, according to a spokesman for the Irish Prison Service.
Another officer was stabbed in the hand and possibly the face or neck during the incident at around 3pm.
A third prison officer was unharmed but left badly shaken.
It is believed Brockwell, a British national who was handed 22 life sentences in the UK for armed robbery and had appeared as a wanted man on BBC’s Crimewatch show, was picked up by an awaiting accomplice on a motorbike or in a car which sped away from the scene.
The serial criminal was two years into a seven-year sentence for armed robbery after he admitted holding up the Bank of Ireland in Blackrock, south Dublin, in October 2012.
He was also convicted of robbing a post office and a bookmakers as well as for firearms offences in the Irish capital.
Brockwell landed in Ireland after failing to return to Kirkham Prison in England, where he was serving life for a series of offences but had been allowed out on day release for a work scheme.
He had carried out armed robberies on betting shops in London’s Marylebone and Paddington areas during September and October 1999.
Described as being 6ft 3in with brown hair and a broad build, it is believed he has links with London, Glasgow and Ireland.
Gardai have launched a city-wide manhunt and said they were “anxious” to locate the prisoner.
A spokeman for the Irish Prison Service said: “A full investigation has commenced into the circumstances of this escape and the Director General of the Irish Prison Service has said that our thoughts are with our staff who have been injured in this serious incident.”
Later, Jim Mitchell, deputy general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said he was deeply concerned by the incident.
“It is vitally important that the Irish Prison Service thoroughly investigate this incident and establish how such a serious assault could have occurred,” he said.
“It is very evident that prisoners, who are known to be dangerous and pose a serious risk, must be accompanied by appropriate levels of security when being escorted outside the prison environment.
“This, and indeed other incidents where our colleagues have been injured in recent years, raises many serious questions which must be tackled by prison management.”
Mr Mitchell said the association’s thoughts were with the injured prison officers.