Nova Scotia

Escapee wasn't in handcuffs, report says

A prisoner who escaped from a moving sheriff's van last month wasn't handcuffed, an investigation has found.
Thomas Arnold Jones was on his way to the courthouse in Dartmouth on Feb. 15 to be sentenced for a break and enter charge. (N.S. Department of Justice)

A prisoner who escaped from a moving sheriff's van last month in Nova Scotia wasn't handcuffed, an investigation has found.

A report released Friday by the provincial Department of Justice blames two deputy sheriffs who were responsible for the inmate transfer.

"In this case, proper procedures were not followed, and that is not acceptable," Justice Minister Ross Landry said in a statement.

Thomas Arnold Jones was on his way to the courthouse in Dartmouth on Feb. 15 to be sentenced for a break and enter charge.

Department of Justice officials said Jones broke a window, opened the back cargo door and hopped onto the van's bumper. He jumped off before the van got to the courthouse.

Police launched a manhunt. Jones contacted police himself about four hours later.

The investigation found that two deputy sheriffs failed to handcuff the man before leaving the jail in Burnside and they didn't adequately supervise Jones and seven others in the van.

Once at the courthouse, they had an extra set of handcuffs but couldn't account for it. While Jones was wearing leg restraints, he was able to remove the device from one of his legs.

"Whenever you're dealing with a human element, there's off days and mistakes are made," Landry told reporters on Friday.

"There's a number of incidents, circumstances that happened that day in the investigation that came out. It doesn't excuse it, doesn't mitigate it in any way."

The investigation also determined that the window in the van was defective and didn't meet the department's standards.

Landry said all containment areas in the transfer vans will have secure glass and that will be reinforced with metal bars or screens. Sheriff managers will look over the restraints and replace the defective ones.

The two deputy sheriffs were disciplined, but the report didn't give specifics.

"The employees have accepted responsibility for their negligence and I'm very satisfied with their honesty and integrity in regards to the issue," said Landry.

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