Nova Scotia

Eliahs Knudsen Kent mistakenly released from Burnside jail

The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility accidentally released a man charged with attempted murder and six other offences on Friday morning, says the province's Department of Justice.

'This individual is dangerous,' says Nova Scotia Justice Minister Lena Diab

Eliahs Knudsen Kent faces multiple charges, including attempted murder. Nova Scotia's justice minister says she is 'appalled' by his accidental release.

The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility accidentally released a man charged with attempted murder and six other offences on Friday morning, says the province's Department of Justice.

Police are on the lookout for Eliahs Knudsen Kent, 22, who is six feet tall and weighs 145 pounds. He was wearing a red hoodie with "Cocaine" written on the front in white. He was wearing grey pants and white sneakers. 

Police said he was being held on remand and facing a variety of charges, including attempted murder, home invasion, attempt to commit robbery, robbery, robbery to steal a firearm, using a firearm in the commission of an offence and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

Justice Minister Lena Diab learned about the mistake at the legislature. 

"I'm angry. I'm appalled. I don't know how something this serious could happen," she said. "This individual is dangerous."

She asked the public to keep watch for the man, but not to approach him.

5 people wrongly released in 7 years

Sean Kelly, director of correctional services, said an internal investigation is underway to find out what happened, the results of which will be made public. He had few details other than to say Kent was "released in error."

"We will be looking at absolutely every detail," said Kelly. "We will be looking at policies and procedures and we will be looking at staff conduct."

Kelly said once the results are known, appropriate corrective action will be taken, although he didn't elaborate.

Halifax police said corrections officials advised them Friday at 9:18 a.m. that Kent was released. 

Since December 2007, five people have been wrongly released from the custody of the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. In all cases, the inmates were returned, though some of them turned themselves in.

Officials blamed a number of factors for those inadvertent releases, including clerical errors and paperwork mix-ups.

"There's just too many of these and the only way public confidence will be restored is if the government comes clean and tells Nova Scotians why this continues to happen," said Opposition Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie.

Baillie said the fact that the Justice Department's first public notification about Kent's release incorrectly said he was awaiting sentencing indicates there are still flaws.

"This is the one thing we count on the government to get right," he said.

NDP justice critic Frank Corbett said the jail has been an ongoing problem for governments of all political stripes, including his own.

"The Justice Department really has to take a long and hard look at what's happening at this institution," said Corbett.

with files from the Canadian Press