Corey Brough is again before the courts after giving police the slip. His time on the run was the latest escapade in a life of crime, custody and courtrooms.
Corey Brough is again before the courts after giving police the slip. His time on the run was the latest escapade in a life of crime, custody and courtrooms.

Escapee back in custody

THE law has again caught up with Corey Brough, the man who escaped from a police cell in Coffs Harbour two weeks ago.

His time on the run ended with his arrest in Kings Cross.

Brough, who has spent a fair portion of his life behind bars, was picked up on the street after he was recognised by officers.

It turns out the 28-year-old is no stranger to the headlines.

Five years ago his time incarcerated as a youth was internationally condemned by no less than the United Nations.

Charged with escaping lawful custody, Brough has since appeared in Sydney’s Central Local Court.

He is also facing charges of larceny, assault and intimidation over an alleged theft from Urunga’s Ocean View Hotel on January 14.

The day after his arrest on those charges, Brough appeared in Coffs Harbour Bail Court. Police say he was remanded in custody and returned to the police station.

But somehow on that Saturday about 11.10am, he allegedly escaped from his cell and ran through the station. It’s further alleged he made a getaway out the back door, fleeing through the car park and across the McLean Street Oval.

A large scale search was unable to find him, but his t-shirt was found dumped in Lyster Street.

The previous day at Urunga, police allege he entered a store room near the bar of the Urunga Hotel. He allegedly grabbed a cash tray containing $50 and $20 notes from a cupboard, but was challenged by a male employee.

As Brough tried to flee the employee yelled out for help and three patrons tackled him. They held him down while they waited for police to arrive.

Officers converged on the scene, arrested him and took him to Coffs Harbour Police Station where he was subsequently charged.

Brough’s extraordinary escape has prompted an investigation by senior management and reviews of security, policy and procedures at the Coffs Harbour police station.

The 28-year-old’s time in prison was recently highlighted in the national press.

Justice Action, an activist group for inmates, detailed how in December Brough had spent 29 of the past 31 months in prison, without being convicted of a crime.

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Brough said he was angry with the prison system, but determined to find a job and get his life together. 

“It’s a lot of stress, sitting in jail for something you didn’t do … You lose contact with family,” he said.    In 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled that Brough - as an adolescent Aboriginal youth with mild intellectual disability - was the victim of human rights violations at the hand of prison officials by being detained at Sydney’s Parklea Correctional Centre. 

When he was 17, Brough was convicted of burglary and assault in 1999 and was transferred from youth detention to Parklea, an adult prison.   

The UN committee determined the Australian government had breached his inherent dignity and his right to protection as a minor.   

At the time state and federal governments denied responsibility meaning he was not compensated.   

Then in July 2009, the Director of Public Prosecutions dropped charges of robbery, larceny and break and enter against him, after he spent over a year in jail.   

A spokeswoman said there was “no reasonable prospect of a conviction’’.   

But within four weeks police rearrested Brough, stopping him with two others in a stolen car that had a toy pistol hidden in the back.   

He was charged with armed with intent to commit an armed robbery.   After bail was refused, he spent another 16 months in remand, before a judge in December found him not guilty in circumstances, indicating she believed the evidence was weak.   

Now two months since his release and Brough is again in custody, awaiting his next court appearance. 

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