Heart attack fugitive admits 37 charges

A fugitive who went on the run for three years after allegedly escaping police custody by climbing out of a hospital window while handcuffed and hooked up to a heart monitor has pleaded guilty.

Neil Joseph Anderson, 48, entered pleas yesterday after handing himself in to Picton police last month.

Police around New Zealand had been searching for him since February 2012, when he allegedly made a dash for freedom.

Anderson had been arrested by Christchurch police after doing a runner while on bail in Auckland, where he was wanted for stealing brass plaques from Waikumete Cemetery.

Shortly after he was arrested, he complained he was having a heart attack.

Officers rushed him to Christchurch Hospital where he received emergency medical treatment and was hooked up to a heart monitor.

While under police guard, Anderson is alleged to have ducked out of a window.

Still attached to the heart monitor, encumbered by handcuffs and wearing a hospital gown, police said he fled across Hagley Park.

A gown was later found in the central city park.

Officers initially thought Anderson was hiding out in empty, earthquake-hit red zone houses or attempting to make his way north.

In the following days and months, police were told of a number of possible sightings of Anderson across the country. But it was not until he handed himself in last month that he was finally taken back into custody.

Anderson appeared in court last month and was remanded in custody to Christchurch Men's Prison.

Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to 37 charges, including escaping custody, burglary, theft, unlawfully taking cars, intentional damage, failing to appear and various driving offences.

He has been remanded in custody until he is sentenced at Christchurch District Court on February 27.

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