6 June 2024

Bed sheets tied together and used to rappel out window in attempted prison break

| Albert McKnight

Guy Pearson Roberts has failed in his attempt to appeal his sentences, including for an attempted prison break at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

An attempt to escape Canberra’s jail by scaling down bed sheets that had been thrown out of a window ended with a pair of inmates getting caught shortly after they touched the ground.

The escapade is outlined in 44-year-old Guy Pearson Roberts’ unsuccessful recent attempt to appeal the sentences he had received for various crimes, the decision of which was published by the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday (4 June).

On 19 March 2022, an unknown person drove a motorbike close to the southern external perimeter fence of the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) and tried to throw a bag over the fence.

This bag was later found to contain a reciprocating saw, a rope and a towel.

After this incident, Roberts and his cellmate broke out of their cell by smashing the window with a metal stool before using bed sheets that were tied together to rappel down from the first-floor window to the ground.

While corrections officers quickly caught them, Roberts continued to try to escape and the officers had to spray him with capsicum spray.

He continued to yell and resist once he was handcuffed before he was taken for decontamination.

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“However, he was yelling abuse and dropped into a squat position before rapidly jumping back up. He was told to stop this, but continued on several occasions,” Justice David Mossop said.

These weren’t all of Roberts’ crimes.

He had been granted day bail to attend his mother’s funeral and was ordered to return to the Supreme Court on 25 November 2022, but made an impulsive decision not to return and was arrested at home on 6 December 2022.

In September 2023, the ACT Magistrates Court sentenced Roberts on charges that included attempting to escape from lawful custody, obstructing a Territory public official and failing to answer bail. He pleaded guilty and was handed an aggregate sentence of 12 months’ jail.

He then launched an appeal, arguing the sentence was manifestly excessive.

The Supreme Court’s Justice Mossop said Roberts’ written submissions were very limited and included “attempted escape charges were laid a year after the fact”, and, “Did nine months segregation after attempted escape”.

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He also claimed he had a bed at a rehabilitation facility that was available to him and he wanted to join a residential rehabilitation program.

But Justice Mossop said his sentence for his attempted escape was “very lenient” and that “none of the sentences imposed were manifestly excessive”.

“[The] outcome of an aggregate sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment for a person with the appellant’s criminal history was a very lenient one,” he said.

The judge also said the attempted escape charge was only laid four months after the incident.

The appeal was dismissed.

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