By Jimmy Woulfe, Mid-West Correspondent
FIVE criminals got help from prison officers yesterday when they made a dramatic escape at Limerick prison.
The drama unfolded when the prisoners were brought back to the prison from Limerick Circuit Court in one of the new security vans acquired by the prison service.
The vans contain five cell compartments, but when these were being opened inside the prison walls, a key broke.
The five prisoners were trapped inside the van as frantic efforts were made to release the broken key.
A prison source said: "Officers then had to get a ladder and climb on to the roof of the van. Part of the roof was slid back and the five prisoners, still in handcuffs were brought out through the roof and got down into the prison yard using the ladder." As the rescue operation was taking place, prisoners crowded at windows and cheered as the great escape was taking place.
The vans are part of the new escort system introduced for the transport of prisoners between prisons and to and from court appearances.