NEWS

RCMP continue search for escaped prisoner

05/09/2012 12:30 EDT | Updated 07/09/2012 05:12 EDT

The New Brunswick RCMP were still searching Wednesday for a man, who escaped an escort at the Greater Moncton International Airport on Tuesday.

Joshua Richard Whalen, 23, was supposed to be flying back to Newfoundland and Labrador to live in a halfway house in St. John’s.

Whalen had been released earlier in the day from the Atlantic Institute in Renous, N.B., where he had been serving time for firearms-related charges.

Whalen escaped from his civilian escort at 9:15 a.m. and ran into a waiting car.

The escort chased Whalen, but eventually lost him.

A Codiac RCMP spokesperson said on Tuesday the police weren't called until about 45 minutes later.

A warrant has been issued for Whalen's arrest. Whalen is not considered dangerous, according to the police.

In a statement Wednesday, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, stressed that correctional officers did not accompany Whalen following his release from the Atlantic Institution.

A civilian employee drove him to rgw Moncton airport "as a courtesy," the statement said.

"We release people every day on statutory release by law after they serve two-thirds of their sentence," said Atlantic regional president Doug White.

"A local employee at Atlantic Institution will often drop off people from elsewhere because the institution is out of the way," he said.

"There were no correctional officers involved in an escort in this situation. There was no escape."

Whalen is described as Caucasian, five feet six inches tall, 143 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes.

Whalen was sent to prison after being caught with a loaded handgun and stun gun in the parking lot of the Avalon Mall in St. John's in 2009.

He had a 9-mm Beretta and body armour, the courts heard.

In April 2010, the Crown sought a six-year sentence for Whalen, citing his previous criminal record.

Whalen instead received four years and two months in jail, and was given double credit for more than 200 days already spent in custody.

That cut his remaining sentence to just over three years.

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