Inmate who escaped B.C. jail by posing as someone else arrested

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August 9, 2008 by Joseph Krohn

HOPE, B.C. – A B.C. jail inmate may have made a clever escape by posing as a fellow inmate, but his arrogance landed him back in RCMP custody on Friday.  Dean Sykes, 39, was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant after escaping from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday.  He appeared in court using the name of another inmate and, believing he was someone else, a judge ordered him released as part of an intermittent sentence.

Jail guards discovered the scheme when the inmate who was actually supposed to appear in court asked to be released on Thursday.  Const. Tara Harrington said police were called early Friday morning after someone that looked like Sykes stopped at a store in Bridal Falls, B.C.  “He actually joked with the attendant that he looked like the male pictured on the front page of the paper,” said Harrington.

“The clerk agreed and phoned the police.”  The RCMP made an arrest on the highway near Hope, B.C., about 90 kilometres from the jail where he was released.  Police expect to lay charges against Sykes of being unlawfully at large.  Sykes has a long criminal record that includes assaulting a police officer and unlawful confinement.  Another inmate at the jail, Timothy Broadbent, 42, was arrested Wednesday and charged with assisting in the escape of a prisoner.

The incident has prompted the B.C. Corrections Branch to launch an investigation into what happened.  A spokeswoman with the department said jail staff primarily rely on visual identification to determine who’s who in the facility, and the two inmates who colluded in the escape look very similar.  The North Fraser Pretrial Centre houses more than 600 inmates, and processes more than 24,000 releases every year.  The Corrections Branch says this is the first time this has happened.  But it’s not the first time an inmate has walked away from the facility.  Omid Tahvili, 37, escaped from the same jail in November 2007, with the help of a guard.  He had been awaiting sentencing on convictions for kidnapping and sexual assault.  Coincidentally, there was word Friday that Tahvili has offered to turn himself in.

At a sentencing hearing for Edwin Ticne, who pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction of justice and accepting a bribe, Crown counsel Wendy Dawson said Tahvili has called the police and offered to negotiate his surrender.  It wasn’t clear where Tahvili is, but he may be in Toronto.

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