Escaping Prison Custody Penalties in NSW

History reveals that time and time again, inmates have managed to come up with inventive and often insane methods to escape the confines of their prison walls.

Indeed, with only few ways to fill their repetitive days and perhaps warped moral calibre, it’s probably not surprising that some of these elaborate means have comprised weaving ropes made of prisoner clothing to abseil down a window, tunnelling through murky sewers to the nearest road, and outright just breaking through the ceiling.

But once in a while, the modus operandi for a prisoner’s breakout is a little more straightforward.

Such is the case of a man in the United Kingdom who thought he would bid farewell to his days in jail simply by trading places with a member of his family.

That’s right – no hidden escape routes or deceptive decoys, just a casual switch of places courtesy of his identical twin brother.

How the Plan to Escape Custody Hatched – And Failed…

The story begins in August last year when Elhaj Diarrassouba was jailed for stealing an American bulldog puppy worth £3,000 at knifepoint in South Wales, Great Britain.

According to news reports, the 24-year-old man’s theft had centred on using counterfeit £50 notes to swindle a dog breeder who, at the time, was advertising puppies for sale online.

However, things went awry for Mr Diarrassouba when the breeder spotted the fake notes, at which point he allegedly threatened the seller with a knife and stole the dog.

Fortunately, the dog breeder, Adam Moheiz, was able to distinguish the number plate of the car Mr Diarrassouba and his accomplice Joshua McCook escaped in, which turns out belonged to the 24-year-old’s girlfriend.

He quickly relayed the information to police, who were able to track the thief back to the woman’s home.

Once inside, they discovered the stolen puppy and seized it.

Ultimately, Mr Diarrassouba was sentenced to five years in prison for his crimes, while his accomplice received a sentence of three years and nine months for his involvement in the dog theft.

Mr Diarrassouba was then incarcerated in a men’s prison – HMP Five Wells – which also goes by the name of Wellingborough Prison, where he soon began to hatch a plan to escape to freedom, indeed with the help of his lookalike brother.

And how it went down was a rather relaxed affair, for a prison breakout, that is.

During a family visit on 11 April 2022, the prisoner simply handed his armband used to identify inmates to his twin.

Thinking the guards would not be able to tell the difference between them, Mr Diarrassouba then casually began to walk out of the facility, freedom now in his sight.

Alas, just as he was about to take his last steps to reach outside the grounds, guards suddenly noticed that their newest inmate was wearing unusual clothes that they had not seen before.

Immediately realising what was going on, they pounced on the man and put a stop to the attempted escape.

According to a spokesperson from the HMP Five Wells prison, families are allowed to mingle in the visiting hall, however, Mr Diarrassouba and his brother were “not sitting across desks with glass in front of them” and hence were able to get closer.

“At some stage, the brothers were able to swap an arm band used to identify inmates,” the spokesperson said.

“At the end of the visit, the brother went to join other prisoners who were going back to their cells.

“A sharp-eyed officer spotted the difference in clothes and apprehended him.

“It was fortunate as Elhaj was just about to walk out.”

In the aftermath of the attempted escape, Mr Diarrassouba was moved to the jail’s Care and Separation Unit and placed on the Escape List.

He has subsequently been moved to a high security prison facility.

Escaping Lawful Prison Custody In New South Wales

Granted, as a prisoner, there’s a lot of idle time in which one could concoct a mastermind way to escape, it is a criminal offence to escape lawful custody.

In fact, simply attempting to escape lawful custody is also a criminal offence.

If you are in NSW, the law on this is reflected in section 310D of the Crimes Act 1900.

Section 310D states that it is against the law to escape lawful custody or to simply attempt to do so, while it is also unlawful to fail to return to lawful custody at the end of the period for which you have been released where you have been temporarily released.

If you are caught committing any of the aforementioned offences, the maximum penalty you can face is 10 years in jail.

By Sahar Adatia.

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