Quebec officials knew chopper jailbreak was possible: docs 0
A combination photo shows the escapees (L-R) Denis Lefebvre, 53, Serge Pomerleau, 49, and Yves Denis, 35, who escaped from Orsainville Detention Centre using a helicopter in suburban Quebec City, Quebec June 7, 2014, in this undated handout picture released by Surete de Quebec on June 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Surete du Quebec/Handout via Reuters)
MONTREAL - Provincial police, jail officials and a judge knew three inmates near Quebec City posed a flight risk prior to their June 7 chopper jailbreak, documents show.
Alleged murderers and drug dealers Serge Pomerleau, Yves Denis and Denis Lefebvre were able to fly away from Orsainville detention centre June 7 and are still at large.
Judge Louis Dionne granted a media request Monday morning to lift a publication ban on two of his March 24 rulings about the trio's detention conditions.
The documents confirm the fugitives and a fourth inmate were deemed escape risks and placed in a restricted area of the jail with heightened security clearance.
"The classification of the applicants in this sector is based on information sent to prison authorities by (provincial police) regarding a possible escape plot," states a ruling by Dionne, who presides over the fugitives' ongoing trial.
Dionne's rulings made no mention of security clearance, which had been drastically reduced in the weeks prior to the jailbreak.
Documents also show Orsainville warden Brigitte Girard objected to Pomerleau using a laptop in his cell, citing security concerns and her staff's lack of experience with the equipment.
"The introduction of a laptop ... poses risks related to such a device's capacity to communicate with the outside," the warden argued to judge Dionne. "The limited experience of staff to verify its intended uses and capabilities poses a problem."
Judge Dionne dismissed the warden's concerns.
"The evidence ... does not allow one to conclude that the presence of a laptop in the applicant's cell endangers the safety of the facility or the hearing," the judge said.
"In this regard, the (jail's) evidence is rather thin and is limited to the risks of communication with the outside world."
The judge added that the warden did not demonstrate that Pomerleau acted in "bad faith or malice."
The inmate had claimed he needed a laptop to prepare a "full and complete defence."
However, the detainee and his co-accused already had access to four secure computer terminals for seven hours each weekday and 5.5 hours on weekends.
They also had access to terminals later in the evening if necessary, not to mention unlimited computer access at the Quebec City courthouse "for the duration of their trials."
Pomerleau was nonetheless given a laptop, at his own expense, to be equipped only with software required to review evidence. Any external communication functions were supposed to have been disabled.
The judge ordered jail officials to verify that the orders were met.
QMI Agency has since learned that Pomerleau has significant financial resources and a large criminal network. Authorities were also well aware of his aviation knowledge, given that police had seized an airplane and helicopter from him when he was first arrested in 2011.