Police in Halifax are keeping a close eye on a prisoner who dodged officers for hours following a string of robberies on the weekend and tried to escape again while he was being booked.

Donnelly Joseph Williams, 27, is accused of robbing four Halifax businesses at knifepoint between 5 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Saturday.

The first robbery took place at a McDonald’s restaurant on Quinpool Road, the second at the Quinpool Road Superstore, the third at the Robie Street Irving gas station and the fourth at the Shell gas station down the street.

Police say the suspect produced a knife or indicated that he had a weapon while demanding cash from the employees.

They also say he managed to commit the robberies in quick secession by flagging down unsuspecting cab drivers after hitting the stores.

Police chased the robber for about seven hours and eventually arrested him without incident as he left a Brunswick Street home before 1 p.m.

No employees or cab drivers were injured.

Williams was taken into custody and was leaving the interview room at police headquarters when he slipped through the booking door and ran into a gated compound around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

However, police grabbed him before he could leap over the fence in the back parking lot.

He now faces a charge of escaping lawful custody, in addition to four counts of robbery, four counts of breaching a probation order, and three counts of possession of a weapon dangerous to the public.

Williams was supposed to appear in court this morning but his lawyer informed the court his client was feeling well and his court date was put off until April 2.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Ron Shaw