AN inmate who escaped from Cessnock Correctional Centre, stole a jail employee's car and used her key card to buy an 18-pack of pre-mix rum and cola cans was found three kilometres away six-and-a-half hours later wearing only a pair of green prison shorts.
Vaughn Grimston, 30, was behind bars until at least January, 2021, after he was convicted of stealing cars and was classified as a "minimum security" inmate, working outside on the grounds of the Cessnock Correctional Centre.
About 8am on April 15, an employee arrived for work at the jail and unknowingly dropped the keys to her Hyundai Tucson in the garden. About three hours later, Grimston was using a petrol blower in the grounds of the correctional centre when he spotted the keys.
He used the keyless entry to unlock the Hyundai and drove away at 11.13am. The entire incident was captured on CCTV cameras. It wasn't until the midday muster that guards noticed Grimston was missing and had escaped and not until 1pm that the jail employee noticed her vehicle was gone. The woman's handbag, purse and mobile phone were in the car.
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Checks with the employee's bank and CCTV cameras revealed Grimston had driven to a bottle shop at Cessnock at 11.25am and bought an 18-pack of pre-mix rum and cola cans.
It was feared that Grimston could have gone as far as Sydney or the Central Coast, where he was said to have connections, but police received an anonymous call at 6pm that day that Grimston was sitting on the stairs at the back of a church in Cooper Street, one block from the bottle shop he had visited, 700 metres from Cessnock police station and 3km away from the jail.
When police arrived they saw Grimston wearing only a pair of green prison shorts and he fled down King Street and into a backyard where, after repeatedly resisting arrest, he was handcuffed.
Grimston pleaded guilty and this week was jailed for a maximum of 12 months in Newcastle Local Court.
Grimston will only have to serve an additional six months on top of his existing sentence, but due to his escape will no longer enjoy the relative freedom of being classified as a "minimum security" inmate, with those convicted of escaping often re-classified as "maximum security" and being housed with the worst of the worst prisoners.