Claims door left open

AN INMATE accused of escaping from a court complex before scaling a wall and fleeing in East Tamworth has pleaded guilty to the offence.

Jonathon Ian Haines, 19, appeared via video link from Tamworth Correctional Centre yesterday following his recapture on Friday afternoon.

Tamworth Local Court heard Haines had allegedly unlocked the bolt on his cell door before escaping the Tamworth Court cell complex just after 3.15pm, fleeing across the railway lines and into East Tamworth.

A massive police hunt was launched before the 19-year-old was arrested after being found hiding in a shed near the old scout hall in Griffin Ave, less than half an hour after the alleged escape.

Haines’ solicitor Matt Kwan said the escape wasn’t planned. “This is an impulse offence,” he said.

“The opportunity arose that Corrective Services left the door open.”

However Magistrate Roger Prowse interjected correcting the record that the cell door was closed at the time of the alleged offence.

But the 19-year-old asked the court: “How else was I supposed to get out?”

Mr Kwan argued his client “was captured soon after” and there was no evidence of any harm to the community.

Haines was charged with escape from lawful custody and enter inclosed lands without lawful excuse.

He has pleaded guilty to the offences and Magistrate Prowse has adjourned the case for sentencing on Friday.

The 19-year-old, who is on remand awaiting trial, did not apply for bail and it was formally refused.

Corrective Services NSW said in a statement on Friday it is investigating the escape from custody.

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