South Nowra jail escapee involved in service station crash

6pm: Police have arrested an escapee who allegedly stole a car and crashed into the new Shell service station at Nowra on Monday afternoon.

A 43-year-old man escaped from the South Coast Correctional Facility where he was working in the grounds just after 2pm, police said.

The minimum security inmate allegedly stole a black Mercedes Eco van from a nearby car park on Old Southern Road in Nowra.

Police were immediately advised and soon after responded to reports the van was on the Princes Highway in South Nowra.

Police attended the location and saw the Mercedes.

Officers activated their lights and sirens, however the driver allegedly failed to stop and a pursuit was initiated.

The van drove into a service station on the Princes Highway and crashed into a petrol bowser.

No one was injured as a result of the crash, however the bowser was destroyed.

The driver was arrested and taken to Nowra Police Station, where he is currently assisting with inquiries.

“This is one of the shortest escapes in my experience,” said Corrective Services Assistant Commissioner (Custodial Corrections) Marilyn Wright.

“I congratulate everyone involved. I apologise to the owner of the [stolen] vehicle ...”

Corrective Services NSW is conducting an investigation into the incident.

3.30pm

Inspector Susan Charman-Horton

THE owner of the van stolen and then smashed into a petrol bowser at South Nowra has told how the driver smashed into him twice as he tried to stop the vehicle.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was watching television with a mate when he noticed his van being driven out of his yard on a security camera.

“I went outside to see who was driving it in case it was a mate who was borrowing it,” he told the South Coast Register.

“I couldn’t see who was driving it so I got my girlfriend’s car and went up the road and got alongside and it was no one I knew.

“I went around in front of him and he rammed me twice.

“I called police and just followed. He jumped gutters and ran red lights through town.

“I kept police updated where he was with cross streets, until they came around me and started following him.

“I watched him ram my favourite little van into a bowser and try and kill himself.”

Police and Fire and Rescue NSW crews have declared the site safe.

3.25pm

The man at the centre of Monday afternoon’s drama was an escapee from the South Coast Correctional Centre at South Nowra.

The South Coast Register has been told the man was a minimum security inmate working in a warehouse area outside the jail when he was noticed missing about 2pm.

He allegedly stole a vehicle and was involved in a short police pursuit through South Nowra.

He is now back in police custody.

2.50pm

The crash at South Nowra happened during a  police chase of a stolen vehicle. The Register has been told the driver of the stolen van was an escapee, believed to have fled from the South Coast Correctional Centre.

The driver of the van has been apprehended by police.

More to come

A 25 metre exclusion zone has been put in place around the new Shell service station at South Nowra after a van collided with a petrol bowser.

Significant damage has been done to the bowser and a quantity of fuel was escaped and is on the ground under the vehicle.

Police have secured the area and Fire and Rescue NSW crews are in attendance.

Traffic is affected on the Princes Highway. South bound tarffic has been reduced to one lane.

Please avoid the area if you can or travel with caution.

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