*Warning this article discusses suicide*
A prison escapee had "no great plan" and seized an opportunity with the intention to commit suicide, a court has heard.
Ryan Antonius Wennekes-Wright, 29, appeared before Goulburn Local Court on October 5 via audio visual link. He previously pleaded guilty to three charges including: inmate escape from lawful custody, attempt to unlawfully take motor vehicle with person in it, and assault with intent to take motor vehicle.
The charges relate to the escape of an inmate from Goulburn Correctional Centre at 1.30pm on July 15 and his arrest at Goulburn Railway Station that night.
Solicitor Matthew Adam said on the day of the offence, Wennekes-Wright had spoken to his ex-partner on the phone from prison. He said the offender was "feeling somewhat suicidal" about not being able to see his children.
"He saw an opportunity to escape, see his children and then end his life," Mr Adam said.
He told the court Wennekes-Wright had "no great plan" for escape.
The solicitor said at the time of the offence, Wennekes-Wright was serving three-years imprisonment with a two-year non-parole period for domestic violence related matters. The original sentence commenced in March this year.
Magistrate Geraldine Beattie told the court Wennekes-Wright had escaped from custody and then committed two "serious offences".
She said the offender had been trusted to work in a minimum security area of the jail near demountable buildings before he jumped the fence and ran into bushland.
The magistrate said Wennekes-Wright then tried to take possession of a passing vehicle before it drove away.
She told the court the escapee had then attempted to take another vehicle. She said he called out "help", stopping a motorist who lowered the window before Wennekes-Wright grabbed them by the wrist.
She said the victim exited the vehicle and the offender attempted to start it, but couldn't because the victim had possession of the keys.
Magistrate Beattie said Wennekes-Wright remained on the run and hid in bushland near the jail and along rail corridors.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Wright argued the offence had created a "financial burden" for NSW due to the "amount of people searching and resources used" to find Wennekes-Wright.
In defence of his client, Mr Adam handed a Justice Health report and a report on the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of NSW prisoners to the court.
Mr Adam said Wennekes-Wright went to school in Crookwell and started a pastry chef apprenticeship before he worked as a labourer.
He said Wennekes-Wright started using methamphetamine, known as 'meth', and other drugs at this time.
The solicitor told the court his client had complex PTSD and a significant substance abuse problem.
He argued conditions in jail were "significantly harder than they would usually be" following Wennekes-Wright's arrest.
Mr Adam said after the offence his client was transferred to Parklea Correctional Centre and placed in isolation for 14 days.
He told the court that after this quarantine period, Wennekes-Wright tested positive to COVID-19 and was isolated for a further six weeks "while dealing with illness, migraines, diarrhea, and body aches and pains while in 24-hour lockdown".
Mr Adam argued his client had "limited medical attention and limited access to pain or any other medications" while in isolation.
Additionally, he told the court Wennekes-Wright had "lost a significant amount of weight in custody".
In sentencing, Magitstrate Beattie took into account the current conditions in custody due to COVID-19 precautions.
"How that impacted on [the offender] physically is clearly of concern," she said.
She accepted Wennekes-Wright's long history of mental health problems and alcohol and illicit drug use. She said he had been using drugs while in custody but had stopped when he went into isolation.
Wennekes-Wright was sentenced to 18-months imprisonment commencing from August 4 for the motor vehicle related offences. For the escape, he was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of 15 months to start on March 24, 2023.
The previous sentence for domestic violence related matters is pending appeal at Goulburn District Court on October 11.
If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis, please seek help immediately by calling 000. You can also seek support from one of these services:
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