A dangerous criminal
escaped custody at the Dunedin Central police station while
outside on a smoking break, police have confirmed.
Tohu Maanaiama (27) fled the station and remained at large in
the city for five hours, before police located him at an
associate's home on Wednesday last week.
Before his recapture, police warned the public that Maanaiama
was considered dangerous and should not be approached.
The Otago Daily Times sought answers from police following
speculation the prisoner escaped while having a cigarette
Inspector Greg Sparrow said in a statement yesterday: ''We
can confirm that the man was in the company of a staff member
in a locked yard at the back of the police station when the
''The man took an opportunistic decision to escape when
another staff member exited through a security gate that is
always locked, unless in use.''
The prisoner had been taken into the yard so he could have a
Police would be not be drawn on whether the staff member was
part of the CIB.
After the prisoner's recapture a review was instituted. Insp
Sparrow yesterday said:
''The matter of whether this is appropriate protocol will
form part of a review of the incident that is currently under
"It goes without saying that the security of prisoners is
critical. We are reviewing this incident to make sure we do
what we can to avoid it happening again.''
Maanaiama did not appear last week when a Dunedin District
Court registrar remanded him in custody until a later date on
a a charge of escaping from custody.
In 2005, Maanaiama was sentenced to four years in jail after
the robbery of a Christchurch dairy while wielding a machete
and imitation firearm.