Belfast Telegraph

Maze escapee Brendan Mead speaks of IRA break out for first time

Brendan Mead, one of the Provisional IRA prisoners that staged the largest breakout in UK history, has spoken for the first time about the escape.

A new film entitled Maze stars Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Larry Marley, understood to be one of the masterminds behind the breakout, and focuses on the relationship between Marley and one of the prison wardens.

Thirty eight prisoners escaped from HMP Maze, which had been purpose built to house Northern Ireland's paramilitaries.

The escape was staged using weapons that had been smuggled into the prison, with the prisoners leaving the jail in the back of a lorry used to bring in food supplies.

During the escape, one prison officer died of a heart attack after being stabbed, another prison officer received a non-fatal gunshot wound to the head and a third was shot in the leg.

Speaking to the BBC News NI, Brendan Mead - who is now a born-again Christian - explains how he was chosen to be the first prisoner to overpower a prison guard due to his physical condition.

"My brief was to go in, take him in the office. But it turned out that there was another prison officer there," Mr Mead says, talking about initiating the escape.

"George you called the man, and also Geordie Smiley. But Geordie Smiley hadn’t been in the position in which he was supposed to be in for the escape to start."

He explains that he then saw the second prison officer, Geordie Smiley, walking across the yard, and was given the instruction to overpower both officers.

"Which I didn’t really know how to do at that time," he says. "But as I said I had a gun that I wasn’t going to use and the IRA staff understood that, that I wasn’t going to use it. I explained that I would go in and punch him, and knock him out, because then he’ll recover from that.

"But to shoot him, I couldn’t, I wasn’t going to shoot him. I just couldn’t shoot him."

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