P.E.I. Justice Department investigating prisoner escape

An unlocked cell door allowed two shackled prisoners to escape a secure area of the P.E.I. courthouse in Charlottetown. The Justice Department says an internal review is underway.

Unlocked cell door allows 2 shackled prisoners to walk out of courthouse

Holding cells from which the prisoners escaped are inside a secure area in the Supreme Court building in Charlottetown. (CBC)

A holding-cell door that was left unlocked contributed to the escape of two prisoners from the courthouse in Charlottetown last Thursday.

A sentencing hearing Thursday for one of the escapees has shed some light on what happened.

Justin James Reynolds, 35, pleaded guilty to the escape and to mischief. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail for the escape, and for other unrelated crimes.

Court also heard that a second door in the secure area of the courthouse was damaged during the incident. That door was normally kept secure by an electronic lock and there is a surveillance camera in the holding cell area.

The Department of Justice confirmed Friday the incident is now under internal review.

"Any areas of opportunity for improved process out of this review will certainly be implemented," a written statement from the department to CBC News said.

The criminal investigation of the matter is now complete, according to Charlottetown police.

Police were called around 2 p.m. Thursday, after a member of the public saw men in leg shackles making their way through a downtown parking lot.

Police contacted security staff at the court house who checked the cell and confirmed two prisoners were missing.

Both men were back in custody within an hour. Police found Reynolds at a downtown residence. The other man turned himself in at the court house.

The other man remains in custody. He is slated to appear in court Feb. 20 on the escape charges.

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