It has been reported that fifty-year old David Mellis, a minimum security inmate, is on the run after escaping from Long Bay Correctional Centre shortly after 11am this morning.
Minimum security inmates are often permitted to work in the grounds surrounding the prison complex, and Mr Mellis is believed to have escaped wearing a high-visibility vest and prison greens while performing ground maintenance outside prison walls.
Not the first time
This is certainly not the first time an inmate has escaped from a correctional centre in NSW.
In July last year, a 20-year-old inmate legged it to liberty out of Mannus Correctional Centre, a minimum security prison located 515km south of Sydney, and approximately 10 km from the town of Tumbarumba.
It must have been exhilarating for the inmate at the start, but it all became too much when his prison greens failed to keep out the blistering cold.
After 5 hour on the run, he made a 000 call from a payphone in Jingellic, 35 kilometres away from the prison, distressed and complaining of hypothermia.
Police quickly attended, arresting the escapee and returning him to the warmth of his prison cell.
That same month, a 28-year-old man made his dash for freedom from the same prison, only to be “arrested without incident” shortly thereafter..
And on 7th April last year, a 45-year-old inmate made a similar escape from the prison. Prison staff claimed they did not know he was gone until the next morning’s muster. He was also eventually apprehended.
A great escape
It’s not just minimum security inmates who have escaped from NSW prisons.
Back in August 2015, 28-year-old Stephen Jamieson made headlines after escaping from Goulburn maximum security prison.
Mr Jamieson was doing time for several serious offences, including armed robbery. He was imprisoned in 2013 and was two years into his 10-year sentence.
Like many escapees before him, Jamieson came up with an ingenious plan.
He cut through a metal gate and made a rope of bed sheets. He then used the sheets to pull himself over the fence, which was topped with curling razor wire. He tied a pillow to his stomach to prevent himself from being cut by the wire when he crawled over.
Once over the fence, he stole a car and drove several kilometres before police learnt of his escape. Police, sniffer dogs and even helicopters were used in an attempt to track him down. Nearby isolated homes and properties were surrounded by police, and appeals for public assistance were made.
Jamieson was recognised at around 11pm whist driving, and police gave chase. He refused to pull over and a police pursuit continued for 90km. He eventually stopped the car after his tyres were popped by road spikes, but made one last-ditch attempt to evade capture by fleeing on foot.
He was captured on the Hume Highway about 150km from the prison – just 10 hours after his brazen escape.
Like many others, Jamieson found that escaping from prison is the easy part: staying on the run from the authorities is often far trickier. Indeed, most inmates are recaptured after a short stint of ‘freedom’.
Escaping Lawful Custody
Section 310D of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) prescribes a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for any inmate who:
(a) escapes or attempts to escape from lawful custody, or
(b) having been temporarily released from lawful custody, fails to return to lawful custody at the end of the time for which the inmate has been released.
The penalty is normally ‘cumulative’ – meaning it starts from the end of the person’s existing prison sentence.
There are a number of possible defences to the charge, including ‘duress’ and ‘necessity’, although there is no reported evidence of a defence in the above cases.