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'Harebrained schemes:' Broken lock lets two P.E.I. men out of jail cell

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It wasn’t exactly the great escape.

Two P.E.I. men who were caught out of their cell at the Provincial Correctional Centre said they never planned on leaving the jail when they climbed through a ceiling hatch with a broken lock and made their beds look like they were still in them

What they were doing, they told police, was looking for materials to construct a still to make homebrew.

Brandon Jeffrey Quinn and Anthony Michael Wayne Gauthier were both in provincial court in Charlottetown Tuesday where they were scheduled for a trial before Chief Judge Nancy Orr.

Instead, both men changed their pleas to guilty of breaching probation and mischief by interfering with the lawful enjoyment of property.

Orr sentenced them both to 30 days consecutive to the time they’re already serving at the jail.

Quinn was in jail serving two years less a day for a string of offences, while Gauthier was serving seven months when one of them noticed a hatch in a bathroom had a broken lock.

Crown attorney Nathan Beck told the court that on July 2 at around 11:30 p.m. the two inmates set off an alarm on an upper level of the jail known as the “penthouse.”

A guard who responded saw someone run by in an area where inmates weren’t allowed.

Beck said jail guards searched a service tunnel where they found Gauthier near a vent and then learned Quinn was also involved.

They soon located Quinn who had to be pepper sprayed after resisting.

“You’ll have to find someone else to come up with some harebrained schemes with."
-Chief Judge Nancy Orr

Beck said both men told the police they discovered the lock was broken on the ceiling hatch a few days earlier, which allowed them access to the service tunnel.

The court heard the men used the hatch several times, replacing the lock in each case to make it seem like it was still secure.   

They told the police that on the night they were caught they went further than they had before and tripped an alarm.

Beck said the inmates made up their beds to look like someone was still under the covers in case there was a cell check while they were out.

Although Quinn and Gauthier were initially charged with a prison breach, Beck said it was an offence that required proof of their intention.

While the men had gone to an area they weren’t supposed to be in, their intent wasn’t clear, Beck said.

Both men told the police it wasn’t their intention to escape, and defence lawyer Thane MacEachern told the court the accused said they were in the crawl space to get materials to make a still.

In sentencing the men, Orr followed a joint recommendation from the Crown and defence.

She also ordered the men to have no contact with each other and had parting words for Quinn, who she dealt with last.

“You’ll have to find someone else to come up with some harebrained schemes with,” she said.

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