Prison break exposes security flaws


Update: 11.55am Friday: Police urged Grand Cayman residents Friday morning to check boats and outbuildings as the search for three escaped prisoners continued.

Convicted killer Steve Manderson, 44, his son Marcus Manderson, 25 and Chadwick Dale, 22, were still on the run after escaping from Northward prison on Wednesday night.

Detective Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay, called on boat and property owners to assist with the enquiry.

Mr. Kay asked boat owners to check their vessels to make sure that they are still where they were last moored or secured. Boats should be secured properly and fuel tanks and small outboards removed, if possible. Home owners should also check their outbuildings and report any suspicious activity or thefts to the police, he said.

“It’s important that people make regular checks of their boats and report any thefts of, or from, vessels straightaway,” he said. “We would be particularly keen to hear about any thefts of fuel, outboards, flare guns or other equipment. When boaters are out on the water I would ask them to be vigilant and report any suspicious vessels or activity.

“Additionally, home owners are asked to report anything suspicious to the police. If it looks like someone has been using an outbuilding, or food or clothing has been stolen from your property, we want to hear about it.

“Finally, it’s important, as has been stressed previously, that members of the public do not approach these men. Instead, all sightings should be reported immediately to 911. People who have information which could assist us in the search for the escaped prisoners should contact their nearest police station or the incident room which has been set up in George Town. That number is 925-7240.”


Original story: Prison officials vowed Thursday to improve security at Northward prison following the escape of three inmates, including a murderer who has broken out of jail on five previous occasions. 

The three men broke out of the kitchen area of B wing, cut through two perimeter fences and escaped late Wednesday. Their absence was discovered during a routine prisoner check around 9.20pm. 

Police immediately launched an extensive manhunt involving more than 30 officers, but as of 3.30pm Thursday, when the Caymanian Compass went to press, the three were still at large. 

They are Steve Manderson, 44, serving a life sentence for the murder of a prison guard in 1993; his son Marcus Manderson, 25, jailed for 10 years in April for possession of an unlicensed firearm; and Chadwick Dale, 22, who stabbed a woman with a screwdriver in a beach robbery and was sentenced last month to six years in prison. 

At Northward prison Thursday, officials were questioning a fourth inmate who they believe assisted the three men in their escape. The small hole in the perimeter fence, through which the prisoners escaped, had been patched up and the movement of inmates within the facility was being restricted. 

Prison director Neil Lavis, who has been in the job for just two months, acknowledged that the physical security infrastructure of the prison needs to be improved and policies, procedures and practices reviewed. 

He said, “We are doing everything we possibly can to bring about the arrest of the escapees. We are working with the police to action that as soon as possible.  

There will be an internal investigation into what went on and recommendations coming from that.” 

Eric Bush, chief officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs, said capital investment is needed to improve the physical infrastructure of the prison following a UK inspector’s report highlighting a host of concerns, including security. 

Immediately prior to their escape, the three prisoners were in a secure recreational area, according to a statement from the ministry. 

It is not yet known if the escapees had outside help.  

A police spokeswoman said, “The RCIPS has in excess of 30 officers, drawn from various departments, dedicated to both the search and the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the escape. Officers have been in liaison with local and international law enforcement agencies as part of the extensive enquiry.” 

The public is advised not to approach the men, last seen wearing prison-issued blue pants and white T-shirts, or attempt to apprehend them personally. Anyone found to have assisted their escape or to have helped them while on the run faces the prospect of criminal prosecution. 

Once caught, the three men will be charged with escaping lawful custody and could face additional jail time. 

A prison spokesman added, “Upon return to prison, the three will be placed on more restrictive regimes and will lose privileges as a result of their elevated risk levels.” 

In a statement released just after 2pm Thursday, the spokesman said an internal investigation into the incident had begun. 

He said, “There is evidence to support that the escapees were assisted by a fellow inmate, but it cannot be confirmed whether or not the three received any help from members of the public.  

“The inmate in question has been moved to the high-risk unit where he will remain until the investigation has been completed.  

“The evidence will be turned over to the RCIPS and he will be charged with aiding and abetting the escape, if it proves to be conclusive.  

“The two perimeter fences that were cut during the escape have been repaired and extensive searches were conducted of the remaining exterior, as well as the interior of the prison, prior to lifting the full lock down. Prisoner movements within the facility remain restricted.” 

Police, prison and ministry officials briefed Premier Alder McLaughlin, government ministers Osbourne Bodden and Tara Rivers, as well as Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, about the escape at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council Thursday afternoon. 

Anyone who sees any of the three men is asked to call police on 911, George Town Police Station on 949-4222, Bodden Town Police Station on 947-2240 or West Bay Police Station on 949-3999.   


The prisoners cut this hole in the perimeter fence, which was patched up by Thursday morning.
Photo: Dominic Corbin