Two inmates escape Canadian prison in helicopter

Monday 18 March 2013 17.40
The incident at the Quebec prison happened in broad daylight
The incident at the Quebec prison happened in broad daylight

Two inmates, who escaped from a Canadian prison by climbing up a rope into a hovering helicopter, have been recaptured.

The two escaped in broad daylight from Saint-Jerome prison in Quebec yesterday.

Provincial police later arrested four people about 50km north of the prison.

Two of those arrested were 36-year-old inmate Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau and 33-year-old inmate Danny Provencal.

Hudon-Barbeau was arrested in November on two firearm related charges and associating with people who have a criminal record.

The arrest came as part of an investigation of a double murder in Quebec.

Police said they received a call from prison staff reporting the escape at around 2.20pm yesterday.

Quebec provincial police tracked down the helicopter used in the escape to Mont-Tremblant, about 85km away from the prison.

The helicopter's pilot, who was the only person still at the scene, was taken to a local hospital and treated for shock.

Police say he is an "important witness" in the case.

Yves Galarneau, the correctional services manager who oversees the prison, said he had never seen anything like the dramatic escape in more than three decades on the job.

Mr Galarneau said there are no security measures in place at the prison to prevent a helicopter from swooping down from above.

"As far as I know, it's a first in Quebec," he told reporters at the scene. "It's exceptional."

Although the tactic may have been a first for Quebec, using a helicopter to break out of prison has a long and colourful history.

New York businessman Joel David Kaplan used a helicopter to escape from a Mexican jail in 1971, and went on to write a book about it.

Pascal Payet, a French prisoner, used a helicopter to escape on three occasions, only to be caught by authorities every time.