NewsCrime Desk

Thug who blew off publican's leg makes escape bid during hospital visit

Frank Ward001.jpg
Frank Ward001.jpg

AN ARMED robber serving 20 years for the shooting of publican Charlie Chawke in 2003 was recaptured on Thursday following a daring escape bid from the hospital.

Father-of-three Frank Ward  (61), was under prison escort for a medical visit to the Midlands Regional Hospital when “he tried to leg it”, a source told the Sunday World.

“Ward was after taking ill after taking some tablets he shouldn’t have and the medical staff in the prison decided to send him over to the hospital,” a source told The Sunday World.

“After he arrived he requested a toilet visit after which he simply made a run for it.

“Ward had three officers on him and they took him down with a rugby tackle,” the source continued.

“Ward was escorted straight back to the prison and will now face an internal disciplinary procedure.”

Frank Ward

Ward’s escape attempt from hospital came after repeated legal efforts to secure his freedom failed.

Last September he was refused an application for an inquiry into the constitutionality of his incarceration, on the grounds that there was a deficiency in the warrant committing him to prison.

Ward will be 70 on completion of his sentence in the Midlands Prison, Portlaoise, following conviction on counts of robbery and assault causing serious harm.

It is the third serious escape attempt in recent months made by inmates during hospital visits.

In March, the Sunday World revealed how one of Ireland’s most dangerous gangland criminals Robert Lawlor – who has 124 convictions – attempted to flee during a visit to the Mater Hospital.

His escape attempt occurred just over a year after two prison officers were seriously injured during an escape from Tallaght hospital by inmate U.K. criminal Derek Brockwell.

Frank Ward has spent more than 25 years behind bars since 1980 for armed robbery, possession of firearms and the attempted murder of two gardaí.

He was a leading member of a large gang of armed robbers and drug dealers controlled by George ‘the Penguin’ Mitchell. Ward also had particularly close links to the INLA, who he recruited for armed robberies.

In 1981 he was jailed for 12 years by the Special Criminal Court for his part in an armed robbery at the Bank of Ireland in Stillorgan, during which two gardaí were shot and injured.

Charlie Chawke

In October 2007 he pleaded guilty to five charges of assault and harm and the possession of a firearm at the Goat Grill on October 6, 2003, when Mr Chawke was shot. He was given two concurrent life sentences, later reduced on appeal to 20 years.