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Liberal MP helps locate escaped inmate

05/28/2013 01:54 EDT | Updated 07/28/2013 05:12 EDT
A member of Parliament turns out to have been among the first to alert western Newfoundland police about the whereabouts of an inmate who escaped from custody on Monday.

Gerry Byrne, a Liberal who represents Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte in the House of Commons, was at his home in Corner Brook when he noticed a man in his 30s quickly walking through a wooded area at the back of his property.

"Whenever someone does that, it kind of gets under your skin a little bit," said Byrne, who found the scene before him suspicious, even though the man had "kind of a preppy look" and didn't appear at all threatening.

He said the man was moving quickly, and looking behind him.

"I didn't want to startle him. I just said, 'How's it going, buddy,'" Byrne said in an interview Tuesday.

"He puts his head up and looks straight me in the eye and says, 'Not bad, b'y.' "

Inmate escaped at hospital

The man Byrne saw turned out to Robert Ross Gould, 31, who had been taken into custody hours earlier on a warrant. Byrne at that time did not know that Gould had asked to be taken for medical treatment before appearing in provincial court in Corner Brook.

Police said Gould bolted from Western Memorial Regional Hospital, where he was awaiting treatment.

Byrne did not know that police were seeking Gould, although he assumed something was amiss.

"He starts looking behind him, like as if — to be honest, it's pretty clear — someone was chasing him. He was just purposely walking through the woods," Byrne said.

"I said, 'Are you OK, buddy?' and with that he says, 'Will be in a few minutes,'" Byrne said in an interview.

"He keeps on going. He was like a rabbit running on a cold February night. There was no stopping this guy," he said. "I just let him go on his merry way."

Seconds after the encounter, which occurred around 2:30 p.m., Byrne phoned the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and asked if patrol officers might be tracking someone. He was quickly put in touch with an officer.

About three hours later, the RNC issued an advisory and a public appeal for help in tracking Gould, who was eventually found on Monday night.

The RNC said it apprehended Gould without incident.

"The arrest was a direct result of the assistance provided by the media and the public," the RNC said in a statement.

Gould is to make a court appearance on Tuesday.

Looking back on the incident, Byrne said he did not feel threatened.

"I don't want to minimize this, but he just had to get where he was going, in his mind," Byrne said.

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