Maddren caught napping

Seven days on the run ended quickly and quietly yesterday on a cold Milton afternoon. Escaped prisoner Stephen Maddren was found curled up in a hot water cupboard in a shearers residence.

''I feel sorry for him in a way, really. I don't want him to come to any harm,'' the shearer who found him said.

''[But] he can't stay here, mate.

''He probably has to go back where he came from.''

Maddren's mum 'really, really happy

Maddren (25) escaped from the Otago Corrections Facility at Milburn by climbing a drainpipe and jumping from a height of two or three storeys.

His recapture was far more mundane.

The shearer at the Arthur St residence, who asked not to be named, said he had returned from work early.

He went to have a shower and got a towel from the cupboard.

''I just stumbled across him.

''He was curled up on the floor.''

Maddren appeared not to wake up, but the shearer recognised his profile from a newspaper picture.

''I was quite surprised but probably, in a way, he's harmless.''

Shearers had noticed food going missing and a stash of pies, hot dogs and cheese rolls was found in the cupboard.

Police were called, and off-duty Senior Constable Steve Griffiths arrived to arrest the escaped prisoner.

Clutha-Taieri area response manager Senior Sergeant Al Dickie said the unarmed officer was called to the scene from his home, as other officers were ''some distance away''.

The arrest by Snr Const Griffiths was without incident.

''He's going to get a chocolate fish,'' Snr Sgt Dickie joked outside the Milton police station, where Maddren was held immediately after the arrest.

''I'm pretty pleased to have this outcome. We've lost a few hours' sleep.''

Both police and the shearer reckoned Maddren had been at the Arthur St property for up to three days.

Snr Sgt Dickie said Maddren was quiet after his capture, and ''a bit down in the mouth''.

''He's not saying anything to us.''

The prisoner maintained he had been in Milton for the majority of his week-long sojourn, although ''we need to check all that out''.

There was no suggestion anybody had been harbouring him.

There was concern during the search about Maddren's health, especially as he had started out with no shoes and had been out in cold temperatures.

Yesterday, Snr Sgt Dickie said Maddren appeared healthy.

He was ''picking things out of his feet - but he did have a pair of shoes''.

The shearers residence had not previously been searched by police, as no information had come in that he might be there.

He was found wearing shearers' clothing.

Snr Sgt Dickie said there had been all sorts of tips about where Maddren might have been and police had looked in many places.

The shoes were gone by the time Maddren was herded - handcuffed, and surrounded by a phalanx of police officers - to a waiting prison van.

He turned his back on waiting media so his face could not be seen, and was driven to court in Dunedin.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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