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This article was published 30/7/2010 (3743 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
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 Smith made sure to note Moran's bail had been revoked and there were no grounds for his release.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.
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