Cab-hailing prisoner appears in court

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 16:27 03/08/2012
Matthew George Kidman
IN COURT: Matthew George Kidman.

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A prisoner who escaped custody in Wellington yesterday was talked into giving himself up by his sister, who has also been arrested over his escape.

Mathew George Kidman, 31, escaped from Lower Hutt District Court about 2.30pm yesterday, after allegedly breaking through a perspex barrier.

He was arrested last night without incident and charged with escaping custody and unlawful possession of a pistol.

Police say Kidman was helped by his sister while on the run yesterday.

Today, Corrinne Alma Joy Antrobus was charged with assisting Kidman to avoid arrest.

Wellington District Court judge Carrie Wainwright bailed her until later in the month on the conditions that she is not to have any association with Kidman and to live at a Vogeltown address. Antrobus has not pleaded to the charge.

Antrobus told The Dominion Post that she was taking her brother to surrender when police arrested him.

"They said I was doing the right thing and then they arrested me," Corrinne Antrobus, 40, claims.

She says she had talked him into giving himself up and was driving him to the police station. Antrobus said she and her brother were in a borrowed car, just seconds from Wellington Central Police station, just before 9pm last night when police stopped the car.

"The dog and the guns pulled - it was absolutely horrible and terrifying."

She said she did not believe she should have been charged.

Police were taking no chances with Kidman at the District Court today.

Kidman appeared in the narrow, barred, cell area of a secure courtroom below the main court at Wellington, with just socks on his feet and wearing blue overalls with the sleeves tied around his waist.

Kidman told Judge Carrie Wainwright today that he was left too long in a room and he walked out.

"It was just an opportunity thing, Miss," he told the judge.

He said he intended pleading guilty to the escaping charge but said he was not guilty of having a pistol.

"It's not my firearm, it's not my car, it's nothing to do with me."

Kidman, unemployed of Taita, Lower Hutt, was due to appear again in Lower Hutt District Court in late August, and remained in custody in the meantime.

TAXI TAKEN

Kidman had been speaking to a lawyer in a cellblock area of the court before he smashed a sheet of perspex, ran through an office area and out a side door, police allege.

Armed police searched the central city and Queensgate Mall, but could not find him. CCTV footage later showed him calmly walking towards a taxi outside the mall, which took him on about a 10-minute drive to a friend's place in Naenae.

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There he got out of the car, went inside to get some money and paid the fare: "We don't believe he committed any offences on that taxi driver," Hutt Valley area commander Inspector Mike Hill said.

He later left the house, and police do not believe his friend knew he was on the run.

He was arrested about 8.50pm in a vehicle in central Wellington. Police recognised the car from searches they had made of several Hutt Valley homes Kidman had links with.

"We'll be conducting our own inquiry around what took place and what lessons we learn from it," Hill said. "We'll be looking at the method of his escape, and was he given any assistance once he left the courthouse."

In 2008, armed police searched for Kidman for two days after he skipped bail on firearms charges.

Kidman, described as thin, 1.87 metres (6ft 3in) tall, was wearing a black puffer jacket and a bright yellow T-shirt, jeans and socks with no shoes when he escaped yesterday.

Anyone with information about his movements yesterday is urged to phone police on 04 560-2669.

A spokeswoman for Queensgate Mall owner Westfield said police did a sweep of the mall, but it was not evacuated.

"The safety of shoppers will always be our first priority and at no time were we advised to evacuate the centre," Deb McGhie said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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