Although no television or radio station has been crass enough to use AC/DC’s Jailbreak – where theescapee famously makes it “out with a bullet in his back” –when coveringSydney’s
brazen prison escape, most stations – commercial ones, anyway –
have made at least a passing reference to the breakout’s Hollywood plot
line.

But Robert Cole, the mentally ill prisoner who escaped
from Sydney’s
maximum
security Long Bay prison – the third prisoner to break out from a NSW
jail in a week – by shedding a quarter of his bodyweight and
slipping out between his cell bars, has a fair way to go if he’s to
match it with the world’s best escapees and make it to the big screen.

Maybe Cole was inspired by the famous Italian prison “escape king” and
professional thief, Max Leitner, who back in 2004 broke out of prison
for a fourth time. Lietner, similar to Cole, stuffed rags and cardboard
in his bed to fool prison guards in the northern Italian city of Bergamo,
although authorities didn’t say at the time how he got out. Prior to his latest breakout, he famously escaped from an
Austrian prison by tying his bedclothes together and abseiling out his
window
to freedom in the middle of the night.

Then there was this
well-oiled scheme from back in 2000 where seven prisoners took control
of a Texas prison, commandeered a truck from outside the prison and fled
without anybody even getting the truck’s number plate down.

Most famous for jail breaks though is San Francisco’s notorious Alcatraz Prison,
which,
in the 29 years that it was open, had 36 break-out attempts and no
known
survivers. Most were recaptured, seven were shot, but five were never
accounted for, presumed drowned in San Francisco Bay. This led to Clint Eastwood’s famous thriller Escape from Alcatraz, a dramatisation of the only potentially successful escape from the prison in its history, where Eastwood makes it out alive.

But maybe Cole took his inspiration from Channel Seven’s new thriller
– titled Prison Break – which it has been promoting like crazy
on television and radio, as well as with massive billboards all around the
country. Now it would be insane and plain wrong to suggest the station had something to
do with the latest spate of NSW breakouts, but they’ll no doubt help the ratings – a lot.

Peter Fray

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