Quebec provincial police suspected three fugitives who broke out of Orsainville jail by helicopter earlier this month were planning an escape attempt, confirm newly released court documents. 

The three inmates – Yves Denis, 35, Denis Lefebvre, 53, and Pomerleau, 49 – all awaiting trial on charges of drug trafficking, made their brazen escape by helicopter from the jail's yard ​on June 7.

The three were also facing murder charges.

The men were classified under the tightest security measures available to the Orsainville jail authorities.

However, they complained the restrictions prevented them from preparing properly for their scheduled trial. They said they weren't being given adequate time to contact their defence lawyers and share documents.

They also told their trial judge that their meals were cold, and that they couldn't exercise because they were in handcuffs and shackles all day.

Last details of pub ban lifted

Last week, documents released by the court after CBC's French language service, Radio-Canada, and La Presse challenged a publication ban indicated how a judge changed those conditions.

Among the changes granted by the trial judge, Mr. Justice Louis Dionne, were:

  • No handcuffs in court.
  • More visitor hours.
  • Permission for all three prisoners to be in the jail yard at the same time.

Those revelations prompted questions from Quebec Public Security Minister Lise Thériault about how seriously authorities had taken the risk of the prisoners' escape.

On Monday morning, the rest of Dionne's ruling was made public.

It shows provincial police suspected the inmates were plotting to escape and told Orsainville authorities as much, which is why the accused men were under such restrictions.

However, it also shows the judge allowed the men to be present in the jail yard simultaneously only on weekdays – yet the escape happened on a Saturday evening.