Prison Warder Foils Escape

THE attempted escape of American murder accused Marcus Kevin Thomas from Windhoek Correctional Facility on Monday morning was foiled not only by a barbed wire fence but first of all by an observant prison warder who spotted Thomas walking out of the prison.

With Thomas’ failed escape still under investigation, the head spokesperson of the Namibian Correctional Service, deputy commissioner Evy January, revealed yesterday that Thomas was walking towards the main gate of Windhoek Correctional Facility, after he had broken out of the cell in which he was kept on his own, when he was spotted by a prison warder on his way to work.

January related that the warder gave chase after Thomas, who climbed up a tree and jumped onto the razor wire fence from there.

Thomas got snagged on the fence when his right foot became entangled on the razor wire, leaving him hanging helplessly and upside down on the barrier for about two hours before the Windhoek emergency services freed him.

January said tools that included a saw, two saw blades and pliers, as well as binoculars and a map, were found with Thomas when he was taken back into custody.

Investigators are trying to determine how the items came into his possession, she said.

Thomas managed to break out of the single cell where he was kept by cutting the bars in front of the cell window and breaking the window, January said. He then used a blanket as a rope to climb over a wall and get out of the prison building, before he tried to walk to the main gate of the prison premises, she said.

Thomas is due to face an additional charge of escape from lawful custody as a result of the incident on Monday morning.

Thomas (29) and a fellow American, Kevan Donnell Townsend (28), were supposed to go on trial in the Windhoek High Court on charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, importation of firearm barrels into Namibia without a permit, possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice, or attempting to do so, on Monday.

Due to the escape attempt their trial did not begin as planned.

Townsend alone appeared in court before Judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday. Deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef told the judge that Thomas was under medical observation in the prison clinic at Windhoek Correctional Facility – previously known as Windhoek Central Prison – although an examination has indicated that he had no internal head injuries. He was being treated for cut wounds, Verhoef said.

The prosecution was urging the two charged men’s defence lawyers, Werner van Rensburg and Boris Isaacks, to cooperate in order to enable the trial to start this week still, Verhoef said. The two accused are supposed to return to court today.

All of the charges are connected to the killing of the 25-year-old Andre Peter Heckmair in Windhoek on 7 January 2011. Heckmair was killed when he was shot in the head in a cul-de-sac in Klein Windhoek, where the two men had allegedly lured him to.

Thomas and Townsend have been in custody since their arrest on the day that Heckmair was killed.

Source : The Namibian