A video showing a helicopter escape of two inmates in 2013 from a detention centre in St-Jérôme, Que., was unveiled today during the trial of Hells Angels sympathizer Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau.
Hudon-Barbeau, 38, is accused of participating in a series of unrelated crimes in the province’s Laurentians region in the fall of 2012 relating to a drug turf war. He pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Hudon-Barbeau made headlines in March 2013 after he and Danny Provençal escaped from a Saint-Jérôme detention centre after two accomplices hijacked a helicopter and forced its pilot to fly to the jail.
Hudon-Barbeau and Provençal climbed up a rope into the waiting chopper.
The video shows the men climbing up the rope to get onto the roof, where a helicopter was waiting. Two accomplices, who were armed, were aboard the aircraft.
In the video, Hudon-Barbeau and Provençal appear to have difficulty climbing onto the roof. They both cling to the rope, which is attached to the helicopter. As the chopper takes off, it carries Hudon-Barbeau and Provençal with it.
A few hours later, police nabbed the two inmates.
Hudon-Barbeau was serving time at the provincial jail for gun possession at the time of his escape.
The union president of Peace Officers in Correctional Services of Quebec (SASPQC), Mathieu Lavoie, told Radio-Canada that guards were unable to interfere during the helicopter escape.
“We have to evaluate who’s on board the helicopter — they were accomplices. Were they armed? We cannot intervene with inmates climbing a rope,” he said. “It’s only in the movies that you can shoot down a helicopter with a handgun.”
Lavoie said that since the incident in March 2013, nothing has changed and no new security measures have been put in place.
In order to prevent a similar incident, the union is calling for heightened searches, specifically those that would detect cellphones.
Hudon-Barbeau and Provençal co-ordinated their escape from the St-Jérôme facility using a mobile device.
A similar incident happened in November 2014, when three inmates also escaped via helicopter from a detention centre near Quebec City.