Northern Ireland

On-the-run 'career criminal' Derek Brockwell sentenced

Derek Brockwell Image copyright Garda
Image caption Brockwell had absconded from a life sentence in the UK for a series of armed robberies

A "career criminal" who was arrested in Belfast after stabbing two prison officers and going on the run from an Irish jail has been given an eight-year sentence.

Derek Brockwell, 56 from Glasgow, was Tasered by police in the beer garden of a Belfast pub in 2015.

After being arrested, he stabbed himself in the stomach.

Brockwell, who has a history of prison escapes, was handed 22 life sentences in January 2000 at the Old Bailey.

The sentences were for armed robbery and firearms offences in and around London.

At the time of his escape in February 2015, Brockwell was serving seven years in Portlaoise Prison for robbery.

Brockwell, whose address was given in court as Frankland Prison in Durham, escaped and attacked the two officers when he was taken to hospital for diabetes treatment.

Image caption Derek Brockwell was pictured being taken away from the bar in an ambulance after his arrest in 2015

The defendant was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court after being convicted of robbery, attempted robbery and two counts of possessing a knife with intent to commit a robbery earlier this year.

The judge said he would serve a minimum of eight years before being considered for release.

Brockwell was told that his lengthy sentence reflected a need to protect the public.

At the trial, the defendant admitted the offences but claimed he was acting under duress, and pleaded not guilty.

Pharmacy targeted

Belfast Crown Court had heard that Brockwell made his way across the border following his escape and bought a knife at a camping shop.

He subsequently tried to rob staff at a shop on Howard Street in Belfast and, after this botched robbery, he targeted a pharmacy on Dublin Road, where he threatened an employee at knifepoint and was handed £65 from the till.

The defendant was arrested later that day in the beer garden of a pub on Bedford Street. Police Tasered Brockwell, who stabbed himself in the stomach during the arrest.

Earlier this year, the police ombudsman said that police had "no other option" but to use a stun gun on Brockwell.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Brockwell was serving a sentence at Portlaoise Prison when he escaped custody in February 2015

During the trial, Brockwell claimed that after arriving in Belfast he went to a house in India Street where he met men in order to arrange a boat from Carrickfergus, County Antrim to take him to Scotland.

He said he was quoted a fee but that the price of the boat trip increased, and he was left with no option but to commit robberies.

The jury rejected his version of events and found him guilty of all four offences.

On Wednesday, the judge told Brockwell he had an "extensive" record and there was "no indication you are likely to reform or change your ways".

"You have shown no remorse or insight into these offences, or the fear caused to vulnerable employees of these shops," said the judge.

He praised the actions of those targeted during the robberies and said it was "clearly a very frightening experience for them".

The judge added that he was passing an indeterminate sentence because of Brockwell's resentment of authority, history of violence and escaping from custody "with the assistance of other members of the criminal fraternity".

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