Two Mountjoy prisoners have made history as winners of the Amnesty International/SVP Jailbreak 2017.
The winners, John Fitzpatrick (27, convicted of fraud in 2012) and Tom McDermott (29, convicted of armed robbery in 2014), say that they are “over the moon” with their victory. The two managed to reach Location X, which was revealed to be the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, at 6.45pm German time, having set off from Dublin at 9am on Friday morning.
Fitzpatrick and McDermott began as favourites to win the challenge with the video they submitted to enter the Jailbreak challenge going viral within twenty four hours of release. The video features the incarcerated duo lip-syncing Thin Lizzy’s rock anthem ‘Jailbreak’ (Fitzpatrick declares that he’s a massive Phil Lynott fan) with special appearances from fellow prisoners and prison guards.
When asked what inspired them to participate in the challenge, the pair put it down to a combination of things: “Well, since I became a prisoner in 2014,” says McDermott, “I’ve really developed a passion for defending prisoners’ rights, so helping Amnesty in any way I could was an obvious move. Plus, we’ve made a good few attempts at escaping before and thought well, we do it so often… might as well raise some money for charity while we’re at it.”
Previous escapes? “Yeah,” Fitzpatrick chimes in, “We’ve done the Great Escape, some Cool Hand Luke inspired stuff, Shawshank-”
“That was fucking awful,” interjects Tom.
“Fucking awful,” agrees John. “Em… ah, Chicken Run, we’ve tried to do the one from Chicken Run, too. The airplane was quite tricky though.”
Jailbreak ‘17 saw Fitzpatrick and McDermott not only make history with their record-breaking amount of funds raised – just under five thousand euro – the detainee-duo also surpassed all previous records with the short time it took them to travel from Ireland to Germany, with only two stops in the U.K. and France. Of their brief journey, the McDermott says: “People were very giving, very generous. It really warmed our hearts and kept us going while we traveled. Plus, all of the airport security were very understanding. Barely glanced at our passports, and while some would say that was because we’re white, I say they decided to take a chance and give two convicted felons a break, all in the name of charity.”
Representatives of The Irish Prison Service say that they are very proud of the two men, and say they are a testament to the good work of correctional facilities across the country. Officer Barry Donovan said “We are amazed by the goodwill and sheer determination of two of our most promising prisoners, John Fitzpatrick and Tom McDermott. But, if they could return to Mountjoy as soon as possible to serve the remainder of their sentences, please, that would be great.”