A PRISON escapee who stole a Holden sedan and drove to Nambucca Heads to visit his sister has been sentenced to a year in maximum security.
Kenneth Close, 30, escaped from Glen Innes Correctional Centre in January.
He pleaded guilty to escaping lawful custody, carrying in conveyance taken without consent of owner and dishonestly obtaining property by deception in Armidale Local Court, appearing by audio visual link on Monday.
Aboriginal Legal Service defence solicitor Nick Forrest told the court that Close had received a concerning call from his sister.
The woman told Close she was scared that there were people that were trying to harm her and the accused’s partner.
“He drove to Nambucca Heads to check on his sister and partner,” Mr Forrest said.
“But when he arrived he found his sister was experiencing what he called ‘drug-induced psychosis’.”
“As the court knows, very few prisoners return to custody.
“His record is particularly bad because of a drug addiction he had in his younger days.”
Close drove himself back to jail the same day of his escape, but not before stopping for petrol and failing to pay.
Magistrate Michael Holmes said Close had a significant criminal history.
“Was this some sort of car sharing agreement between prisoners of the Glen Innes Correctional Centre?” he said.
“The offence of escaping lawful custody is a very serious matter, as you would know you are now classed as an escapee and your life is going to be a lot more difficult in jail.
“It’s very hard to gauge the true reason why you were absent from jail, you took advantage of minimum security.
“I take into account you have had a troubled background but the court must oppose a sentence of a consecutive nature.”
Police prosecutor Cheryl Hall said Close’s escape made a “mockery” of the prison system.
“The community would have grave concerns about a person who escapes jail and steals a motor vehicle,” she said.
“There were other ways he could have contacted his sister if he was concerned.”
Coles was sentenced to a year in jail for escaping lawful custody.
For carrying in conveyance without consent of an owner he was sentenced to a year in jail and for obtaining property by deception he was sentenced to three months jail.
Coles will serve a consecutive year in jail in addition to his original sentence for aggravated break and enter and using a weapon to prevent detention with no non-parole period.