Man in custody at Ottawa jail on sex assault charge ‘erroneously released,’ arrest warrant issued

Brendon Wayne Spurrell, 22, is wanted by police, who say he is considered "dangerous.". Handout / Ottawa Police Service

UPDATE: Ottawa police issued a correction noting that Brendon Wayne Spurrell was last in court on Friday, Jan. 10 — not on Monday, Jan. 13 — and was released from custody the Friday evening.

A wanted 22-year-old man facing charges of assault and sexual assault was “erroneously released” from an Ottawa jail earlier last week and the province is investigating why, officials say.

Ottawa police said in a statement on Thursday that officers are searching for Brendon Wayne Spurrell, who is wanted on a judge’s bench warrant and is considered dangerous.

Police said Spurrell was last in court and released from custody on Monday, Jan. 13 but later issued a correction, saying the wanted man was last in court on Friday, Jan. 10.

“To our knowledge, he was released the evening of January 10,” police spokesperson Const. Martin Dompierre clarified on Friday, Jan. 17.

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Police first announced that they were looking for Spurrell the evening of Jan. 13, only saying he was “wanted in relation to ongoing court matters” and was considered “dangerous.”

That first statement did not mention Spurrell was released from custody, nor did it mention the charges he is currently facing.

Dompierre said that in some circumstances, the service won’t detail the charges a wanted person is facing out of concern for the victim.

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Brian Gray, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General, confirmed to Global News in a statement Thursday that Spurrell was “erroneously released from the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre.”

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Gray said a Canada-wide arrest warrant was subsequently issued.

“Upon learning about the release of the accused, steps were taken to notify the victims and ensure their safety,” Gray wrote.

“The Ministry of the Attorney General takes this situation very seriously and is working with our justice partners to carefully review the circumstances that led to this release.”

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Spurrell is also facing charges related to “a number of breaches,” according to police.

He doesn’t have a fixed address at this time but Dompierre said Friday that investigators believe Spurrell is in the Ottawa area.

“The information we’re receiving from tips that are coming in indicate that he would still be in the region of Ottawa,” he said.

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Police urged anyone with information about Spurrell’s whereabouts to call 911 and to not approach him.

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Spurrell is five-foot-10 and approximately 160 pounds, officers said. He has short, black hair and blue eyes.

Police also said anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers.

— With files from Nick Westoll

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