What the hell was a recently jailed rapist (for 11 years ) doing being flown to be “Near family” at Christmas in the first place? What sort of jail system do we have?Bloody law abiding folks often only WISH they could afford to see family…Absolute joke…What are your thoughts readers?
Jail transfers halted, prison escapees captured overnight
A NOTORIOUS rapist allowed privileges at Christmas and another fugitive were captured overnight after their shambolic escape saw Corrective Services chief James McMahon yesterday cancels all non-essential prison transfers.
Cameron John Graham, 22, sentenced in November to 11 years jail for brutally raping a mother, escaped from custody after being flown from his Perth prison cell to Geraldton to be close to his family for Christmas.
Graham and another prisoner, Kelden Edward Fraser, 23, were captured after police used a plane to find their bush camp in the Mullewa area, near Geraldton.
Officers were deployed to the camp where they arrested Graham and Fraser just after 1am this morning.
The pair were taken to Geraldton Police Station.
The escape has increased heat on Serco, the private company responsible for prisoner transfer.
After refusing to front the media yesterday, Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis told The Sunday Times last night when asked about Serco: “Of course I am disappointed in Serco. They are skating on thin ice.”
In the wake of the security failure, Commissioner McMahon also ordered a review of the prisoner transfer process, as the State Opposition called for a parliamentary inquiry into the debacle.
Acting Premier Kim Hames and Mr McMahon were left to face a barrage of questions yesterday.
Mr McMahon said that as a result of the incident only prison transfers approved by him would go ahead.
“At the department we take this very seriously. Our ultimate job is to provide safety to the community,” he said. “We failed. The ultimate responsibility for that is me. Let me very clear about that.”
He added: “I think it is an outrage. I am going to get to the bottom of it.”
Mr McMahon also put Serco on notice. Serco was transporting the escapees.
“There have been a number of incidents that have come across my desk that have involved Serco,” he said.
“Do I have concerns? Absolutely I do. And I am reviewing that in its entirety.
“I will be making my point very strongly and clearly to Serco that the minimum requirement I require of any organisation that are trans-porting people from a custodial perspective is that it needs to be done securely.”
Opposition spokesman for corrective services Paul Papalia said yesterday Labor would move a motion calling for the inquiry when parliament resumes next month.
Mr Papalia said it was “inconceivable” that one month after starting his jail term Graham would be transferred from maximum security at a Perth prison – believed to be Hakea – to medium-security Greenough Regional Prison to be closer to his family for Christmas.
Mr Papalia said that Graham did not deserve the festive season perk and the “risks were too high”.
When Graham broke into the woman’s home on January 15 last year, he threatened to murder her children.
He then forced her to undress before repeatedly raping his terrified victim in her walk-in robe.
Afterwards he ordered her to drive to a nearby cash machine and withdraw $400.
At sentencing, District Court judge Christopher Stevenson said Graham’s offending was of “such gravity” that it was difficult to find words “as a human being to describe the nature and depravity of it”.
But one month later, Graham was rewarded with a taxpayer-funded flight to see his family in Geraldton.
Asked by the media yesterday why Mr Francis was missing in action, Dr Hames said: “I don’t know where he is. He is not my responsibility.”
“I don’t know the circumstances behind Joe not being able to talk today. The Minister has a full understanding of the implications of his responsibilities as a Minister. It’s up to him to make those decisions and up to the Premier to make judgments on whether those decisions are accurate or not.”
Mr Papalia said: ” Corrective Services minister Joe Francis needs to provide the community a full explanation as to why this perk was allowed.
“When parliament resumes we will attempt to have this investigated and (we) want the government’s support.
“In this case, it would appear the prisoner was transferred to Greenough so that his family could go and see him in prison – just one month after he was sentenced.
“This is a guy (Mr Francis) who chases publicity for self promotion and spin but is shy when there is an issue. I will be writing to the Minister and asking him for the specific process that occurs for transfers of Mr McMahon said a detailed investigation was also being conducted by Serco.
Mr Papalia said Serco should also be part of the inquiry.
“Serco has had a series of failures in the past few months,” Mr Papalia said.
Graham was being transferred back to Perth on Friday when he kicked the door out of a prison van at Geraldton airport and stole a rental car at 1pm.
Fraser, 23, on remand at Greenough for alleged armed robbery, also escaped with him.
The car allegedly stolen by the pair was found bogged 39km north of Mullewa.
Police officers had resumed the search at first light yesterday after reports the escapees were seen refuelling at a BP service station in Cue, 651km northeast of Perth, about 8.30pm on Friday.
They were seen by police travelling along Great Northern Highway but disappeared 15km north of Mount Magnet.
About 2.30am, police spotted the car on the Geraldton-Mount Magnet Rd heading east. A car chase ensued but officers lost them.
Police last night used helicopters and night-vision equipment to locate the men.
Serco declined to comment