A man who escaped from the Alice Springs watch house last week has been apprehended, the NT Police media unit says, but information about the escape was not publicly distributed by police in a media statement when it occurred.
Sources told the NT Independent the 18-year-old man had escaped last Tuesday after the officer in charge propped open a door, which was to remain locked at all times.
The door, on the female inmate side of the watch house was propped open because of painting works being undertaken on the male inmate side, forcing police to move all prisoners to the female side, sources said.
The man allegedly ran through the door that was propped open, closing it behind him, before kicking open another emergency staff exit door and scaling a brick wall to freedom, a source said.
NT Police media manager Rob Cross did not report the escape through the proper media release protocol last week, opting instead to only post it to the Alice Springs and Southern police Facebook page. The media were not made aware of the escape at the time through the standard public reporting procedure that includes emailed statements to media.
Mr Cross claimed on Monday afternoon that the man had been “actively avoiding police” for four days after escaping from custody on May 10.
“Police received information that the man had travelled from Alice Springs to Tennant Creek, and further inquiries led to the man being located and arrested,” Mr Cross said in a statement, that failed to say when precisely the man was apprehended.
“During the arrest, it is alleged the man resisted the arresting police officers.”
It is also understood the man may have stolen a car the night he escaped from the watch house in Alice Springs before travelling to Ali Curung. Once there, another car was reported stolen, according to sources, and is believed to be the car he used to travel to Tennant Creek.
After being apprehended, the man was taken to the Tennant Creek watch house and charged with one count of resisting police, Mr Cross said.
He refused to confirm if the man had stolen the vehicles and why he wouldn’t have been charged with those offences as well.
The 18-year-old man has been remanded somewhere, Mr Cross said, and will appear at Alice Springs Local Court on May 17.
In March, another detainee escaped the Alice Springs watch house and evaded police while being transported and handcuffed. That escape was also not reported for nearly 24 hours. That detainee was eventually apprehended.
Mr Cross did not say why a media statement had not been issued after the escape and if the embarrassing failures that led to the escape were the reason he chose not to reveal it more widely.