Sat. May 21st, 2022

The mayor of an outback Territory town has recounted the moment an escaped prisoner jumped his fence, bummed a smoke and then fled into the street before being arrested.

Prisoner Richard Henwood, 37, had been on the run for five days after escaping the Barkly Work Camp along with fellow prisoners Maximus Cutta, 20, and Ezra Austral, 23.

Henwood and Cutta were arrested on Thursday evening and Austral was arrested a few hours later.

Tennant Creek Mayor Jeff McLaughlin was in his backyard on Friday afternoon when he saw a blur which, he said, he’d thought was a dog jumping over his fence.

He quickly realized it wasn’t.

“And then I was like, ‘Oi!’ what are you doing! ‘ [It was] old mate in a big black hoodie, black jumper and pants, and I thought, ‘that’s not the right attire for summer, “Cr McLaughlin said.

“I said, ‘what are you doing?’ and he said, ‘they’re after me!’

“And then I was like, ‘no shit, Sherlock.'”

A man with a red hat and bushy beard smiles at the camera.  He is wearing a bright shirt.
Mr McLaughlin says Henwood jumped his fence on Thursday afternoon.(Supplied: Jeff McLaughlin )

By Mr McLaughlin’s account, Henwood then demanded a cigarette, to which the mayor obliged.

Henwood then reportedly bolted out into the street.

Mr McLaughlin alerted his neighbor, a police officer, and rank triple-0.

The escapee was arrested soon after.

The three prisoners had triggered a five-day manhunt after they removed their electronic monitoring bracelets and fled the Tennant Creek work camp between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Police profile shots of Richard Henwood, Maximus Cutta and Ezra Austral in a composite image
Richard Henwood, Maximus Cutta and Ezra Austral fled the Barkly work camp just before midnight on Saturday.(Supplied: NT Police)

NT Police said dogs, drones and tactical response officers had been used in the search.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Murphy said on Thursday that the absconders were believed to have been in contact with family members since being on the run.

NT Police said in a short statement last night that the third prisoner to be arrested, Austral, “had been actively avoiding police apprehension for the past five days was arrested in the township this evening”.

Police thanked the public for their assistance in tracking down the prisoners.

Mr McLaughlin, also a member of Tennant Creek’s Neighborhood Watch board, said he was impressed by how his town’s authorities came together to re-capture the prisoners.

A map showing Tennant Creek and Barkly Work Camp
All three of the escapees were arrested on Thursday.(ABC News)


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