4 May 2022

Prison break 'mastermind' Lila Walto admits ramming prison car to free fiancé

| Albert McKnight
Lila Rose Mary Walto

Lila Rose Mary Walto, 29, has pleaded guilty to rescuing an inmate from custody. Photo: Facebook.

The woman charged over last year’s infamous prison break told her jailed fiancé “everything is ready for me and your mum to have dinner tonight” over the phone, before chaos broke loose on Canberra’s streets.

Lila Rose Mary Walto, 29, has pleaded guilty to nine charges from the 9 July 2021 incident, including rescuing Kane Quinn, who is also known as Kane McDowall, from custody.

According to court documents, she and another woman went to a Fyshwick car dealership that morning, where she told a salesman she had a $100,000 loan to buy a Jeep Wrangler.

She asked to take one for a test drive and handed over a driver’s licence that was not her own. She took it for a short drive, returned, then asked if she could take it again for a couple of hours to show her sister in Gungahlin.

The dealership said no and she argued before agreeing to a second test drive with the salesman.

During this drive, she pulled over on Majura Parkway saying she wanted to have a cigarette. While the salesman was looking at his phone she and the other woman got back into the Jeep and sped off, crashing into a Mini Cooper that was leaving a nearby truffle farm as she did so.

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Meanwhile, Quinn was in custody at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), where he’d been telling staff that he’d swallowed a battery.

Three staff members left for the Canberra Hospital with him at 3:30 pm, but as they drove down Hindmarsh Drive their Toyota Camry was hit from behind by the Jeep numerous times.

They tried to escape by driving onto Canberra Avenue in Griffith, but the Jeep continued to crash into their car.

In Oxley Street, Kingston, the staff and Quinn got out, but he tried to run away, yelling, “she’s trying to kill me”. The Jeep’s driver called out his name and told him to get into the car.

Police went to a home in Lyneham at 8 pm that evening, which Walto left after short negotiations.

They heard noises coming from the roof and a man yelled, “I am not coming out until I have smoked all my drugs”, followed shortly afterwards by the sound of power tools coming from the property’s crawl space.

Police said Quinn left the house after “prolonged negotiations”.

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Later, police obtained a telephone call from the AMC, made between Walto and Quinn at 1:30 pm on the afternoon of the jailbreak.

“Yeah baby, everything is ready for me and your mum to have dinner tonight,” she told him.

Also, when talking about a car, she told him he was “going to love it”.

In a later call with different people in August 2021, she spoke about the incident and said: “I don’t remember much, I was really f-king drunk”.

When Walto was interviewed by police she told them it was “not Kane’s fault”. She said she was planning on running away with him and her children to start a new life together, and she also got to hug and kiss him.

The woman who was with Walto on 9 July told police she didn’t know Walto was going to try to rescue Quinn or steal the Jeep, but admitted she stayed in it for a number of hours while it was being driven around Canberra.

She got out on Canberra Avenue after Walto started ramming the Camry, telling police she had been terrified and thought she was going to die.

The AMC staff suffered several injuries in the incident. One had a cut to his head, a bulging disc and a delayed concussion for which he is receiving ongoing treatment.

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Walto appeared in person in the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday (4 April), where she pleaded guilty to nine charges that were committed or transferred to the Supreme Court for sentencing.

These included rescuing Quinn from lawful custody by force, damaging property, dishonestly taking a motor vehicle, driving while suspended, two counts of driving dangerously, two counts of assaulting a frontline community service provider and assault.

Charges of driving while suspended and breaching a good behaviour order, which she also pleaded guilty to, are to remain in the Magistrates Court, while numerous other charges were withdrawn.

Magistrate Peter Morrison said the first date she would appear in the higher court was 12 May. He remanded her in custody and ordered a pre-sentence report.

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