After four days of close encounters, break-ins and red
herrings, increasingly frustrated police are hoping the hunt
for fugitive Stephen Uriah Maddren is nearing its end.
Vaughan Elder reports.
It's been a week from hell for police and the Department of
It started on Tuesday afternoon when an un-handcuffed Stephen
Uriah Maddren is believed to have climbed up a downpipe on to
a roof at the Otago Corrections Facility at Milburn and
jumped from a height of two or three storeys.
The search throughout South Otago initially involved about 40
Corrections staff and has since involved about a dozen
They came closest to catching Maddren on the night of his
escape, when he was seen by a Corrections staff member near
the prison about 6.30pm.
The Otago Daily Times has been told the staff member
was distracted by the lights of an oncoming car and Maddren
escaped into the night.
It is understood the car in question was an ODT
Initial fears for Maddren's health in the freezing conditions
eased after a comprehensive search close to the prison on
The evidence so far suggests he has remained in the area near
the prison, with resident Nicole Acklin reporting hearing
footsteps on the roof above her kitchen on Thursday morning.
Maddren is then thought to be responsible for two break-ins
early yesterday - escaping with milk and food from one of the
Clutha-Taieri area response manager Senior Sergeant Al Dickie
said the search was becoming increasingly frustrating as the
week went on.
''Everyone's looking for a result, but it's not that easy,''
Snr Sgt Dickie said.
''It seems this guy is mobile at night and under the cover of
darkness it makes it even harder.''
Asked how Maddren had eluded such a large-scale search, which
included police dogs, he said: ''That's a good question. We
are just wondering whether he has got a bike or something to
avoid [leaving tracks for the dogs].''
Snr Sgt Dickie said the long hours of the search were tiring,
but not unusual, for a police officer.
''You have got to expect it in this job.''
He did not believe too few resources had been allocated to
''We have got other things we have got to attend to as well,
and we have allocated what we think are the right amount of
resources for the job.''
The search could take some time yet, but everyone was hoping
for a return to normality soon.
''We want to get on with life and move on to other things. We
have got other responsibilities, not just this guy.''
Maddren is Caucasian, 171cm tall, and has a brown or black
mullet-type hairstyle and no teeth. He was last seen wearing
green track pants and a green top.
Although police did not consider him a danger to the public,
people should not approach him but instead call police on 111
if he is sighted.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call the
Dunedin police on (03) 471-4800. Information can be provided
anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555-111.