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Published date: Thursday, 26 July 2018
Inmates at a NSW correctional centre have failed in their bid to join the ranks of great prison-escapees, after an eagle-eyed female corrections officer noticed something suspect in a cell.
The officer at Bathurst Correctional Centre in the state’s central west was doing a routine cell search when she discovered toothpaste and toilet paper jammed around a sandstone brick in place of mortar.
“I noticed near the cell bars at the back of the cell what appeared to be diggings into the concrete, and the mortar had been removed from around the large sandstone block,” the officer said.
“The holes had been concealed with toilet paper that had been secured in place with toothpaste. A flag shape had also been painted onto the sandstone block to disguise the damage.”
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin praised the officer for her professionalism and conscientiousness.
“We are all very proud of this officer, whose curiosity and methodical cell search uncovered this brazen escape attempt,” Mr Severin said.
“I also wish to thank this officer for reminding inmates that these types of attempts – particularly in a medium-security centre - are futile. Our officers are well-trained and good at what they do.”
The mortar diggings measured 45cm across and 28cm down, with the mortar dug out to varying depths from 2cm to 18cm deep.
During the cell search, Bathurst officers also located a broken green broom with a metal handle.
The cell was located on the third floor of the centre’s C-wing and housed two inmates, aged 37 and 39, who have denied all knowledge of the mortar damage. The pair has been placed in segregation. Investigations are continuing.
There has been a significant downward trend in the number of escapes over the past few decades, despite a substantial increase in the overall inmate population. In 1983-84 there were 183 escapes from inmates in CSNSW custody. In 2017 there were 10. The majority of escapes involved breaches from minimum-security correctional centres.