Stephen Maddren last week became the first prisoner to
escape Otago Corrections Facility. Reporter Timothy Brown
explores his escape as well as others which have hit the
headlines in the past.
When Stephen Uriah Maddren leapt from the roof of Otago
Corrections Facility last week, he could not have imagined
how appropriate the expression ''from here 'til next
Tuesday'' would become for him.
Almost exactly a week after he escaped custody - by climbing
a downpipe on to a prison roof and jumping from a height of
two or three storeys to the other side - Maddren was found
asleep in the hot water cupboard of a shearers' residence in
Milton on Tuesday.
The Department of Corrections confirmed the 25-year-old
became the first inmate to escape the prison at Milburn,which
opened in May 2007, on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 3.
For the next seven days he kept police guessing as to his
whereabouts, with reported sightings coming from as far
afield as Clinton.
He was ultimately found 7km from the prison in a house which
had not previously been checked by police.
However, his seven days on the run in and around Milton pales
in comparison to the more than 4200 days spent at large and
18,500km covered by Brandon Pillay.
Pillay and another prisoner walked off from a work party from
Tongariro/Rangipo Prison in Waikato in August 2001. The other
prisoner was recaptured in Australia in 2006 and extradited
to New Zealand to complete his prison sentence, a spokeswoman
for the Department of Corrections said.
Pillay, also known as Ricardo Pisano, had served eight months
of a 15-month sentence for extortion. He resurfaced in May
last year in Southampton, in England, when English police
arrested him in relation to the death of openly gay Michael
Polding (62), with whom Pillay had shared a flat.
He was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 and
a-half years' imprisonment in December last year.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections said because
Pillay was not recaptured in New Zealand, he remained the
country's only prisoner listed as escaped and never
Three-time escapee George Wilder - who left apology and thank
you notes for his burglary victims - was one of New Zealand's
most notable fugitives. In 1962, Wilder spent 65 days on the
run from New Plymouth Prison, and the next year fled for 172
days from Mount Eden. His final breakout lasted only hours
after he armed himself, took a hostage, then surrendered to
Corrections Minister Anne Tolley told the Otago Daily
Times earlier this week ''such escapes are now extremely
rare'' and statistics back up her assessment.
During the past five years, 24 escapes (including Maddren's)
from custody have been recorded by the Department of
Corrections, compared with 92 for the five-year period before
that - a drop of almost 75%.
The average number of days escapees spent on the run had also
almost halved. Prisoners who escaped between July 2009 and
June 2014 spent an average of five days on the run, compared
with nine days for the five-year period before that.
Maddren's escape was the first in New Zealand since June
2012. Dunedin Prison Charitable Trust chairman Stewart Harvey
said while the escape was the first in Otago since Otago
Corrections Facility opened, several prisoners had escaped
from its predecessor, Dunedin Prison.
Gary Victor Martin had escaped through the prison's laundry
and Warren Woodley escaped from the library in the visiting
room. Both were recaptured.
Looking through records of Otago's prisons revealed several
prisoners had escaped from the jail which preceded Dunedin
Prison, he said.
Thomas Langham had died, aged 18 or 19, after being shot when
he escaped from the jail in August 1866. The Otago Witness
reported Langham and another prisoner ''savagely assaulted''
warden Edward Birt before escaping by scrambling on to a shed
and out of the jail.
Langham was shot by officers who tracked the pair.
Cyrus Haley was shot in October 1875 after escaping from his
prison duty of quarrying stone. Warden James Millar shot and
killed Haley in Moray Pl as he was heading towards a coal and
timber yard near Stuart St after his escape.
By those standards, Maddren's escape and recapture was less
dramatic. However, the ODT understands his escape took
seconds as he scaled the downpipe and jumped from the roof
barefoot and wearing only track pants and a jersey.
He survived the first night in what police described as
The story of Maddren's escape, complete with his description
- toothless and with a mullet-type haircut - went global,
with an account reported by The Daily Mail online in the
Otago Corrections Facility manager Jack Harrison said the
Department of Corrections was ''undertaking an operational
review of the escape''.
''We cannot comment in more detail until the review has been
completed,'' he said.
Maddren's mother, Tanya Kelso, told the ODT her son
was always good at climbing and hiding as a child.
She was pleased he had been found safe and alive.
''I am really happy, really, really happy; I am so happy,''
she said earlier this week.
She hoped Maddren, who had some difficulties growing up,
could change his ways.
''At the end of the day Stephen is my son,'' she said, in an
''And I hope Stephen will change his ways and be more