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Convicted killer escaped to see sick grandmother, court told

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Fifteen months extra: Antoine Anderson, a convicted murderer, has been given additional prison time for escaping from the Prison Farm (File photograph)

A convicted killer who escaped custody to visit his ill grandmother has had 15 months added to his prison sentence.

Antoine Anderson, 45, pleaded guilty last year to escaping lawful custody at the prison farm in an incident on August 10.

He told the court that he made his escape in an effort to visit his grandmother after he was told his permission to see her had been revoked.

However today Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe said that the escape was an “opportunistic endeavour” without violence or threats of violence, but inmates must be aware that those who escape custody will face additional time behind bars.

“I am sure that there are two sides to every story,” he said. “I am sure that the defendant wanted to see his grandmother and that he loves her implicitly.

“On the other hand, the Department of Corrections also has reasons to ensure the safety and security of its inmates. I am therefore sure they had their reasons not to allow the defendant to see his grandmother.

“Whether they were right or wrong, it was not for the defendant to take matters into his own hands.”

Mr Justice Wolffe said the defendant appeared to be an intelligent, articulate man who has come a long way since he committed the offences that landed him in prison.

However he added: “Part of rehabilitation is that when things do not go one’s way, then one should not resort to behaviour that will only exacerbate the problem.”

Anderson was jailed for at least 15 years in 2009 for his part in the 2007 shooting murder of Aquil Richardson.

He was jailed an extra seven years in 2012 for inflicting grievous bodily harm on another inmate during a 2011 prison brawl.

The court heard that Anderson was transferred to the prison farm at Ferry Reach in St George’s in May 2021 as he approached eligibility for parole for the murder charge.

Alan Richards, for the Crown, said that on the day of the escape, during a cell check, a prison officer noticed that the door to Anderson’s cell had been wedged shut.

The officer forced the door open and saw Anderson by the windowsill hiding what he believed was a mobile phone.

He confiscated the phone after some resistance from Anderson, but Anderson ran out of the cell and around the compound. He eventually stopped after a brief chase and returned to the cell with the officer.

Later that same day, Anderson had an argument with the same prison guard and ran out of his cell block once again.

The officer gave chase but lost sight of Anderson and called for back-up.

When he spotted Anderson again, the inmate was climbing the farm’s chain-link fence and escaping.

The prison started a manhunt, sealing off the island of St George’s and doing a sweep of the Ferry Reach area.

He was later found around 10.49pm after a nine hour search and arrested after a brief struggle.

Victoria Greening, counsel for Anderson, said that the escape came after her client was given approval to visit his ill grandmother, only to have it rescinded due to a lack of staffing.

She said that impact of the reversal was exacerbated because several years prior, Anderson had been unable to visit his other grandmother before her death.

“On the morning of the escape he was upset and crying because he heard his grandmother was back in hospital,” Ms Greening said.

Anderson himself told the court that he had borrowed the phone because the prison phone only allowed him to make one call to his grandmother a week, but after he was caught with it, he was told he would be sent back to (the high security prison) Westgate and not allowed back to the farm.

Anderson said that he did not believe he would ever be given permission to see his grandmother if he was moved back to Westgate, which motivated his escape.

He said he had hoped to see his grandmother in Southampton and then turn himself in, but found himself trapped in St George’s because of the police search.

Anderson apologised to the courts and the public for any anxiety that his escape might have caused.

“I’m at the mercy of the court, but it’s my grandmother,” he said. “What would you do? I know right from wrong, but you forced my hand.”

Mr Justice Wolffe said that while the escape was at the lower end of the spectrum, a period of incarceration was merited and the sentence should run consecutively to other sentences.

As such he sentenced Anderson to 15 months behind bars, with the sentence to start once he is eligible for parole for the 2012 grievous bodily harm conviction.

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Antoine Anderson at his sentencing for causing greivous bodily harm to a fellow inmate at Westgate. (File photograph)