'I'd never sleep again'

Louis Power
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St. John's corrections officer awarded Medal of Bravery for rescuing his partner

Shawn Lahey was recently awarded a Medal of Bravery by Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean. He told The Telegram the story of what happened the night he came to his partner's rescue.

Corrections officer Shawn Lahey and his partner were letting Unit 1 prisoners out one at a time for their showers at Her Majesty's Penitentiary one night in January 2006. They were not prepared - or properly trained - for what happened when it was prisoner Richard Driscoll's turn.

Corrections officer Shawn Lahey of Kilbride is to receive a Governor Generals Medal of Bravery for his actions in saving a colleague at Her Majestys Penitentiary in St. Johns. Lahey subdued an inmate who had attacked his partner with a weapon in a failed

Shawn Lahey was recently awarded a Medal of Bravery by Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean. He told The Telegram the story of what happened the night he came to his partner's rescue.

Corrections officer Shawn Lahey and his partner were letting Unit 1 prisoners out one at a time for their showers at Her Majesty's Penitentiary one night in January 2006. They were not prepared - or properly trained - for what happened when it was prisoner Richard Driscoll's turn.

"My partner opened a cell and let the inmate out," said Lahey, recalling the incident. "He grabbed a hold of him around his neck and put a shank up to his throat."

Lahey hit the panic button and yelled for backup, but didn't have time to wait for help to make it down the elevator.

"I went in and basically disarmed him, and we both got him on the floor and handcuffed him," he recalled.

"It was scary. I mean, I didn't have much time to think about it. I just reacted. But I've never really seen any of our staff members ever in that type of peril before.

"We've been in lots of confrontations, but there's usually a lot more of us. It kind of took me aback for a split second."

He said his partner at the time - whom he said would rather remain anonymous - had blood on his shirt from where Driscoll's shank punctured him, but he got away without any serious injury. He said the prisoner appeared to be on drugs and he had taken his partner hostage in an attempt to escape.

"I think he probably was using him as leverage," he said. "I think he probably would have (hurt him)."

Lahey said his reaction was basic instinct and was not something he had prepared for in training.

"My personality alone wouldn't let me not react," he said. "I'd never sleep again, I don't think, if I didn't do something. That's just the way I'm put together."

Lahey has been working as a corrections officer at the prison for almost 16 years, and said the training provided for dealing with such encounters is inadequate. Training for use of force, he said, takes up only two days out of the year. Fortunately, he had done some personal training in Kempo karate.

"If you're not practising it, it's useless. It's as simple as that. I mean, you forget it a couple of days later," he said. "It's only the last two years, maybe, that we're after getting any training, and this is basically because Occupational Health and Safety is after pushing."

Despite his courageous response to the dangerous situation, Lahey is humble - almost shy - about having been awarded a Medal of Bravery by Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean.

"I'm no good for this limelight. This gives me more anxiety than the incident itself," he said.

Lahey, along with several others from across the country, will receive his decoration at a ceremony this fall.

lpower@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: St. John's

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Recent comments

  • KMart
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Your a hell of a man/person Shawn. Congratulations on receiving such a prestigious award and making a difference in life.....

  • concerned
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    This story should enlighten the general public about the level of violence faced by these correctional officers at HMP. Its not a picnic or a lakeside hotel,its a medium maximum security institution . It has a high degree of violence against staff and inmates . The public needs to support these brave officers more. Theres a police officer of the week and year etc... but nothing is ever mentioned or done for correctional officers. Nice ot see a little recognition towards correctional officers, not a bad news story for a change!

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Hope this is not another case of this piece of crap inmate laying charges of excessive force against Mr. Lahey, like the recennt case of inmate Mahon. Anything is possible in the judicial society in which we live that protects the criminal and not the victim. Meantime Mr. lahey....good job. Too bad you didn't get the oppertunity to take him out . One less to worry about.

  • Jerome
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Guys like driscoll should be treated in a manner where the cell door should never be opened until he's placed his wrists through the bars and he's cuffed from behind.

  • mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    2 days ayear for use of force training, what a joke. That should be a very high priority skill for these individuals, not somethign they should have to learn outside of the job. Sadly though its the same through policing and other areas of the justice system. One of the seniour officers goes away and does a 2 wek use of force instructor course then returns to teach, after only 2 weeks of training mind you. Then what is taught is watered down, poorly taught and very little if any absorbed. It takes years of training 2 or more times a week to even build a modest level of profiency in any type of combat or self defense system. Yet our cops and guards are given a few days here and there, and told they are prepared to face such situations! These people are inadequatly trained and its time the government step in and provide the training these peopel need before someone gets needlessly killed. There are dozens top notch self defense instrutors here in town, many with 20 or more years of training in Martial arts etc. Our officers should have subsidized acces to these people and there expertise. Instead of having being taught a 2 day course by someone who was taught a 2 week course by someone who did the 2 week course 3 times.

  • Kevin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Great story and great job by Mr. Lahey. It is further confirmation of just how dangerous that job is and really lets you know just what kind of scumbags that are in HMP.

    No wonder someone just got convicted for losing it. I couldn't blame them. The laws are designed to protect the guilty not the victims. The situation has now been created that we have to put up with the low lives that are taking over society.

    Time to put some semblance of order and reasonability back into our, so called, Justice System.

  • john
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    The headline on the story is misleading. It's taken froma direct quote in the story but by itself gives the impression the ordeal has left him with problems sleeping. But the fact of the matter is that he wouldnt be able to sleep if he didnt do something fast for his collegue. Shame on the layout editor for an ill-conceived headline.

  • KMart
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Your a hell of a man/person Shawn. Congratulations on receiving such a prestigious award and making a difference in life.....

  • concerned
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    This story should enlighten the general public about the level of violence faced by these correctional officers at HMP. Its not a picnic or a lakeside hotel,its a medium maximum security institution . It has a high degree of violence against staff and inmates . The public needs to support these brave officers more. Theres a police officer of the week and year etc... but nothing is ever mentioned or done for correctional officers. Nice ot see a little recognition towards correctional officers, not a bad news story for a change!

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Hope this is not another case of this piece of crap inmate laying charges of excessive force against Mr. Lahey, like the recennt case of inmate Mahon. Anything is possible in the judicial society in which we live that protects the criminal and not the victim. Meantime Mr. lahey....good job. Too bad you didn't get the oppertunity to take him out . One less to worry about.

  • Jerome
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Guys like driscoll should be treated in a manner where the cell door should never be opened until he's placed his wrists through the bars and he's cuffed from behind.

  • mike
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    2 days ayear for use of force training, what a joke. That should be a very high priority skill for these individuals, not somethign they should have to learn outside of the job. Sadly though its the same through policing and other areas of the justice system. One of the seniour officers goes away and does a 2 wek use of force instructor course then returns to teach, after only 2 weeks of training mind you. Then what is taught is watered down, poorly taught and very little if any absorbed. It takes years of training 2 or more times a week to even build a modest level of profiency in any type of combat or self defense system. Yet our cops and guards are given a few days here and there, and told they are prepared to face such situations! These people are inadequatly trained and its time the government step in and provide the training these peopel need before someone gets needlessly killed. There are dozens top notch self defense instrutors here in town, many with 20 or more years of training in Martial arts etc. Our officers should have subsidized acces to these people and there expertise. Instead of having being taught a 2 day course by someone who was taught a 2 week course by someone who did the 2 week course 3 times.

  • Kevin
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Great story and great job by Mr. Lahey. It is further confirmation of just how dangerous that job is and really lets you know just what kind of scumbags that are in HMP.

    No wonder someone just got convicted for losing it. I couldn't blame them. The laws are designed to protect the guilty not the victims. The situation has now been created that we have to put up with the low lives that are taking over society.

    Time to put some semblance of order and reasonability back into our, so called, Justice System.

  • john
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    The headline on the story is misleading. It's taken froma direct quote in the story but by itself gives the impression the ordeal has left him with problems sleeping. But the fact of the matter is that he wouldnt be able to sleep if he didnt do something fast for his collegue. Shame on the layout editor for an ill-conceived headline.