"Nice to see you Mr Maddren ... we were worried about your health" was how senior constable Steve Griffiths greeted fugitive Stephen Maddren who was found hiding in a hot water cupboard in Milton.
Maddren, 25, escaped from Otago prison last week and was recaptured on Tuesday at the shearers' quarters on Arthur St.
With no other officers in the immediate area, Milton off-duty policeman Griffiths was called into action.
"I threw my gear on, raced down the road and got him."
He was called to 'the ranch', as the shearers' quarters were known and found four shearers covering all the exits.
"It absolutely fantastic work by the shearing workers."
One shearer took Griffiths into the shower block where Maddren was hiding in the cupboard.
Maddren did not resist arrest and had very little to say, Griffiths said.
Clutha-Taieri area response manager Senior Sergeant Alistair Dickie described the cupboard as "cosy", but one you could probably stand up in.
One of the shearers was getting out of the shower when something drew his attention to the hot water cupboard, Dickie said.
The worker suspected someone was hiding in the quarters after he noticed fruit and food missing during the past three days. He took a sneaky look to confirm his suspicions and then called the police.
Maddren was found with some clothes he'd taken from the shearing quarters, some food and a bottle he was using to urinate in, he said.
"He seemed in quite good condition ... but was picking things out of his feet. He was a bit down in the mouth, I don't think he liked being caught."
Maddren was reported missing from the prison on June 3, when he escaped from his escort while being transferred for a court appearance. He was not wearing handcuffs when he climbed a downpipe and jumped off a three-storey building.
Department of Corrections prison manager Jack Harrison said Corrections was undertaking an operational review of the escape.
Griffiths said Milton locals could now rest easy.
- The Southland Times
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