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Freeport, Barnett Street stations under repair

Published:Saturday | January 30, 2016 | 1:00 AMChristopher Thomas

WESTERN BUREAU:

The Freeport Police Station in Montego Bay, St James, where six prisoners tunnelled their way to freedom in a jailbreak this past November, is now undergoing repairs. So is the Barnett Street Police Station, also in Montego Bay.

"That is being remedied as we speak. We are now getting action from our services branch," said Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor when quizzed about measures being taken to make the Freeport Police Station more secure in the aftermath of the recent jailbreak.

"The cells are being repaired, and other concerns that we have as it relates to bringing the cells up to standard are being looked at by our services branch at both Freeport and Barnett Street," said McGregor.

 

NOT COPS' RESPONSIBILITY

 

McGregor, however, dismissed the notion that it was the responsibility of the police at the Freeport Police Station to maintain the integrity of the facility's infrastructure.

"We are not the experts as it relates to the facility (at Freeport) being repaired. The facility was rundown for some time, and we have been writing reports to the appropriate authorities, but we are now getting action from them," said McGregor. "It is for us to report it, which we have been doing, and the remedial effort is on the way right now."

The infrastructure of the cells at Freeport was called into question following the escape of six prisoners, including a convicted double murderer, on November 30, 2015. The men tunnelled their way out of the cell block by breaching the wall behind a malfunctioning toilet bowl and making good their escape over the station's perimeter fencing.

Of the six escapees, 20-year-old Benjamin Stephens of Dias, Lucea, in Hanover was shot and killed by the police on December 11, 2015, while 30-year-old Randy Murray of Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, and 32-year-old Gregory Roberts of Maroon Town, St James, were recaptured in police operations in Westmoreland and St Thomas between December 12 and 13.

The remaining three escapees 26-year-old Shaniel Luton of Farm Heights in St James; 30-year-old Kelvin Hodge of Barrett Town, St James; and 34-year-old Marcus Robinson of Dome Street in Montego Bay, St James remain at large.

The escape of the six prisoners was the second major breakout to occur at the Freeport station in recent years. Before that, convicted felon Greg Taylor got out of custody at the facility on January 30, 2013, under questionable circumstances, which resulted in several police personnel being charged in relation to his escape.

Taylor was subsequently recaptured in Glendevon at the home of a policewoman, where he was reportedly found hiding under a table while clad in a bathrobe and bedroom slippers.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com