Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Drones buzzed over French prison months before inmate's helicopter escape

Drones buzzed over French prison months before inmate's helicopter escape

France's justice ministry said 46-year-old Faid's escape only took "a few minutes" and no-one was injured or taken hostage.

Faid's brother, who had been with him in the prison's visiting room when the gunmen broke in and was held for questioning until Monday, said he had known nothing about the escape plan.

According to ABC, Faid is known as a career criminal, now serving a sentence for attempted armed robbery in 2010 that led to a auto chase and a shootout with police, killing 26-year-old officer Aurelie Fouquet.

Details emerged yesterday of the daring prison escape of notorious French robber Redoine Faid, who used a helicopter in a breakout worthy of the Hollywood heist movies he is known to admire.

He was re-apprehended six weeks later at a Paris hotel and in 2017, he was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for that first jailbreak.

But in April, he was sentenced to 25 years for masterminding a May 2010 armed robbery that turned into a gunfight, killing a female police officer.

"This was a spectacular escape", Belloubet said.

According to newspaper Le Parisien at the time, he told the court trying him that he regretted the escape and its impact on the guards he had taken hostage, saying: "If I was in that position again, I wouldn't do it".

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FILE - Notorious French gangster Redoine Faid poses for a photo prior to an interview with French TV channel, LCI, in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris, France, Nov. 22, 2010.

The helicopter used in the escape landed in the one prison courtyard not fitted with anti-aircraft netting, prompting authorities to believe the mission was in the works for some time.

One of Faid's most recent prison supervisors has stated he was never in conflict with guards, but that "we must always be wary".

Following a decade in prison, he was released under conditions in 2009 after convincing parole officers that he had changed.

The chopper he escaped in and a black auto he switched to after abandoning the aircraft were both found burned out in Gonesse, about 18 miles north of Paris.

He has co-authored several books about his delinquent youth and his life as a criminal in Paris.

Around 3,000 French police are now participating in the manhunt, according to a police source. Faid later wrote that he had watched Mann's film "Heat" many times as inspiration for his bank-robbing.

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