3 March 2022

Lila Walto to fight charges laid over 'high profile' prison break

| Albert McKnight
Lila Walto

Lila Rose Mary Walto has been charged after police allege she was involved in a prison break. Photo: Facebook.

The woman allegedly involved in a “high-profile” prison break in Canberra last July has announced she will fight her charges, while a court has also heard there have been delays in getting her a psychiatric assessment.

Lila Rose Mary Walto told Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter, “not guilty, your honour”, as each of the 21 charges laid against her was read out in the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday (2 March).

Special Magistrate Hunter remarked there seemed to be a lot of duplicate charges and asked, “did she crash into it five times or something?”

Prosecutor Margaret Smith said negotiations in the “high profile matter” were ongoing, but there was currently some overlap between charges at the moment.

Carley Hitchins of Aulich, appearing for Walto, said the case had been adjourned several times for a psychiatric assessment, and while this hadn’t been completed, it wasn’t due to a lack of trying from her client.

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She had an appointment, but it was “cut off”, Ms Hitchins said, and she had been asked to leave the room despite being booked in. She was now booked for another appointment in mid-March.

Special Magistrate Hunter asked if she could write to Corrective Services and say the court was “not particularly impressed”.

Court documents previously tendered to the court have revealed how police allege the prison break occurred.

Police allege 28-year-old Walto and another woman went to Gulson Car Dealership in Fyshwick at about 10 am on 9 July 2021.

She allegedly took a Jeep for a test drive with a staff member, but after she pulled over on the Majura Parkway and he got out, she drove off without him.

Meanwhile, police said Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) staff began arranging for her fiancée, 28-year-old Kane Quinn, also known as Kane McDowall, to be taken to the Canberra Hospital.

At about 3:30 pm, three AMC staff members left the prison for the hospital with him in a Toyota Camry and were driving along Hindmarsh Drive when it was hit from behind by a Jeep three times, causing it to spin out of control.

The Jeep followed them into Griffith, still ramming them, although it stopped briefly to allow a woman to get out of the passenger seat.

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The Camry was still being rammed before pulling up in Oxley Street, Kingston, then the staff and Quinn got out before the latter allegedly tried to run off, yelling, “she’s trying to kill me”.

The woman driving the Jeep yelled at him to get into the car. He allegedly managed to get away from staff and get inside the Jeep. The vehicle was later found on fire in Forrest.

That same night, at about 8:00 pm, police went to a house in Lyneham where they found Walto and Quinn.

Her charges include harbouring an escapee, assaulting a frontline community provider, arson, theft and rescuing a person from lawful custody using force.

On Wednesday, Walto was remanded in custody and will next appear in court for a pre-hearing mention on 13 April.

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