At approximately 11.45am this morning three remand prisoners escaped whilst in transit from Nelson to Christchurch prison.
The three escaped approximately 20kms north of Kaikoura in a remote area. They were pursued inland by escorting Police staff but were not located. An extensive search was launched involving Kaikoura and Blenheim staff including several Police dogs.
The trio were tracked for a distance inland by Police dogs before their trail was lost.
It is unclear at this stage how the trio managed to escape from the escort vehicle, which was carrying four other prisoners who did not attempt to escape.
Senior Sergeant Stu Koefoed of Nelson Police named the three prisoners as :
• Shannon Brent Flewellen a 25yr old unemployed boat painter of Nelson. Flewellen is described as a male Caucasian, 183cm tall, short cropped dirty blond hair, blue eyes, medium build, heavy tattooed with prominent tattoos around his neck and throat area. Flewellen was remanded in custody on a raft of charges including a previous escape last month from the Nelson District Court.
• Mark Cunningham is 34yr old beneficiary of Nelson. He is described as a male Caucasian, 176cm tall, dyed blond hair, blue eyes, medium build, tattooed. Cunningham was remanded on three charges included burglary, robbery and injuring with intent to injure.
• David Richard Parker is a 26yr old boat builder. He is described as a male Caucasian, 183cm tall, brown hair, blue eyes, medium build. He has been remanded on a number of charges.
Police do not consider Parker to be a risk to the public but Flewellen and Cunningham have a history of violence and should not be approached.
Senior Sergeant Koefoed advised motorist not to offer lifts to any person hitch hiking in the area and advised residents in the are to secure their houses and vehicles and to report any suspicious persons or activity immediately to the Police.
Any person sighting the escapees should phone the Police immediately.