Noel (left) and Colin Weir, of Milburn, say they were never contacted about an escaped prisoner near their property. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
The first Noel Weir knew about a prisoner escaping was when
he noticed a large police presence near his Milburn home -
but authorities say he failed to give them an updated phone
''I got home and there were cops up the road, over on the
corner and a helicopter buzzing over my house and I thought:
''What the ... is going on.''
Mr Weir, who worked as a carpenter on the nearby Otago
Corrections Facility when it was being built, had to ask a
police officer what was happening.
He told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he was annoyed
the Department of Corrections had not notified him that
Stephen Uriah Maddren (25) had escaped, when that condition
was ''part of the agreement of building it there''.
''As soon as someone escapes, they were to ring around all
the locals and let them know ... it never happened.''
''He could have been hiding in my shed.''
Otago Corrections Facility Manager Jack Harrison said today
Mr Weir had given staff an incorrect landline number.
"I have visited Mr Weir today and he has acknowledged that
the number he provided was no longer correct and he has now
provided us with his current contact number which is a cell
He said staff had made every effort to inform neighboiurs of
the escape and he regretted some may not have been notified.
"Some neighbours were out at the time of the notification and
for those few who had requested contact by land line attempts
were made at later times."
On Tuesday afternoon, Maddren is believed to have climbed up
a drain pipe to gain access to a roof, before dropping two or
three storeys to escape.
He is then believed to have headed towards State Highway 1
near Mr Weir's home, Mr Weir said he checked his property but
found no trace of the prisoner, but ''anyone with any
intelligence would be leaving this area as quick as possible
and not hanging around''.
Clutha-Taieri area response manager Senior Sergeant Al Dickie
said Maddren's trail indicated he then headed eastwards
towards a forestry block near the rear of the prison.
''He could be anywhere ... we can't rule him out being in the
vicinity of the prison.''
Police also checked holiday homes in the Bull Creek,
Chrystalls Beach and Taieri Mouth areas yesterday.
Maddren, who was wearing trackpants and a top and was
barefoot when he escaped, might have changed his clothes and
shaved his head, Snr Sgt Dickie said.
There had been no reports of burglaries or cars being broken
into in the area, he said.
He confirmed police were compiling a profile on Maddren, and
were talking to his acquaintances and pursuing other lines of
A spokesman for Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said an
inquiry into Maddren's escape was under way and would
determine whether any other action would be taken, including
a review of remand prisoner transport protocols.
Questions to the Department of Corrections - including the
circumstances surrounding Maddren's escape, how many escorts
were assigned to the group of prisoners and whether
precautions were taken with Maddren, considering his history
of escaping custody - went unanswered yesterday.
A spokeswoman said the department would provide no further
comment until Maddren was found.
Snr Sgt Dickie said there were concerns for Maddren's safety,
particularly at the time when he was thought to be in the
forestry block, but police hoped to find him alive.
After a thorough search of the forestry block on Wednesday,
he said was more confident Maddren was alive.
''I am reasonably satisfied after the search ... that he has
probably come out of that area, under the cover of darkness,
and taken a different route.''
Maddren, who has previously escaped custody, fled from the
prison after his remand hearing in the Dunedin District
Although police did not consider him a danger to the public,
people should not approach him but instead call police on 111
if he was sighted.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call the
Dunedin police on (03) 471-4800. Information can also be
provided, anonymously, to the organisation Crimestoppers on