Violent prisoner wrongly released from jail
A prisoner was inadvertently released from Headingley Correctional Centre, just west of Winnipeg, and now police are trying to find him.
The Winnipeg Police Service is asking the public to keep an eye out for Brian Michael Moran, 20.
He is described as being about six feet four inches tall and about 270 pounds.
Moran has black hair, brown eyes and several tattoos on both hands and his neck.
"This male is known to be violent and should not be approached by the public," police warned in a news release.
Moran is awaiting a court date on a shooting charge but had been free on bail.
However, he was arrested this week for breaching those bail conditions and was in court Wednesday.
He was ordered behind bars but there was miscommunication when he arrived at Headingley and Moran was allowed to leave, according to Winnipeg police Staff Sgt. Gordon Gold.
It wasn't until later that afternoon that authorities realized the mistake.
The reason the public wasn't alerted until Friday was because the Winnipeg police and RCMP couldn't agree on who was responsible for issuing the news release, Gold said.
The charges against Moran fall into Winnipeg police jurisdiction, but Headingley jail is in RCMP jurisdiction.
Anyone who happens to see Moran is asked to contact Winnipeg police at 204-986-6222 or the local RCMP detachment.
Inmate accidentally set free
Police and justice officials waited 48 hours before letting the public know they were searching for a Winnipeg gang member who was accidentally released from Headingley Correctional Centre earlier this week while awaiting trial for a shooting.
And no such warning was ever given about a second inmate who was mistakenly freed, then quietly recaptured two days later.
Brian Moran, 20, is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant after being given his walking papers Wednesday afternoon.
He was being held on a charge of discharging a firearm with intent stemming from a January 2008 attack that left a man seriously injured.
The Free Press learned about the incident Friday morning through a justice source who couldn't understand why police hadn't already notified the public. An alert was finally issued by police at 3 p.m. Friday following inquiries from a reporter. In the release, police included a photo and described Moran as aboriginal in appearance, 6-4, weighing about 270 pounds with black hair, brown eyes and several tattoos on his hands and neck. They said Moran is potentially violent and warned people not to approach him if spotted.
The mix-up began after Moran appeared at the downtown Winnipeg Law Courts Wednesday morning to plead guilty to previously breaching his bail conditions and was sentenced to time already spent in custody. Crown attorney Mike Desautels told provincial court Judge Marva Smith Moran was still facing the shooting charge and was to remain in custody. Smith made sure to note Moran's bail had been revoked and there were no grounds for his release.
However, something clearly got lost in translation and Headingley officials -- noting his sentence of time already served in custody on the breaches -- let him walk out of the provincial jail just hours later. He hasn't been seen since.
Police and justice officials also confirmed Friday a second Headingley inmate was mistakenly released on Tuesday, only to be recaptured on Thursday. A news release was never sent out about that case.
Trevor Ballantyne is now charged with escaping lawful custody on the basis he didn't willingly turn himself in when he knew he wasn't supposed to have been freed. Ballantyne was being held at Headingley to face charges including sexual assault, assault and failing to comply with court orders.
"These were cases of human error and involved a complex set of multiple proceedings," Justice Department spokesman John Thorpe said Friday. "We have procedures such as double-check systems in place to protect against human error, but mistakes still occur on rare occasions. When they do happen, the error is considered a significant event and is given highest priority. The appropriate police agency is notified immediately after a release in error is identified."
The provincial Tories jumped on the incidents, saying they show the NDP government is failing the public. Justice critic Kelvin Goertzen released figures earlier this year showing 15 inmates had accidentally been released from provincial jails since 2007, including six already in 2010. This week's incidents bring that tally to 17.
Get out of jail free cards
Two inmates were accidentally released from the Headingley Correctional Centre in a two-day span this week.
One is back in custody, while the other was still on the lam Friday.
Police are still looking for 20-year-old Brian Moran, who was released in error Wednesday after returning to the Headingley jail following a court appearance.
“I don’t know whose fault it was,” said Crown prosecutor Mike Desautels. “They were under the impression he had bail.”
Winnipeg police asked for the public’s help Friday in nabbing Moran, who is described as aboriginal, about 6-foot-4, 270 pounds with tattoos on his hands and neck.
Moran is awaiting trial for his alleged role in a January 2008 shooting incident on the Chief Peguis Trail bridge that injured one person.
Desautels said the confusion might relate to the fact Moran pleaded guilty Wednesday to some breaches and was sentenced to time served, but was still supposed to be in custody on the shooting charge.
Meanwhile, a second man has been charged with escaping lawful custody after he was released from Headingley on Tuesday, also by mistake.
Trevor John Ballantyne, who has outstanding charges for assaults, a sexual assault and failures to comply with court conditions, was accidentally released Tuesday due to a clerical error but was taken back into custody Thursday.
A Crown prosecutor working on the case said Ballantyne reported to his probation officer while he was out of jail earlier this week.
The prosecutor said the escaping charge was laid against Ballantyne because he ought to have known he wasn’t supposed to walk free, especially given that he was scheduled to apply for bail Friday.
A spokesman for Manitoba Justice said both Ballantyne’s and Moran’s releases were due to human error.
At least six people have been released accidentally from Manitoba prisons so far this year.
Tory justice critic Kelvin Goertzen said that’s symptomatic of overcrowded facilities, adding each incident should be publicly disclosed, which is not currently the case.
Justice Minister Andrew Swan was unavailable for comment Friday.