Doofus Of The Day #697

Courtesy of a tip from Australian reader Snoggeramus, today’s winner comes from that continent.  The winning deed happened almost two decades ago, but has only just come to light.  The award goes, not to him, but to the official idiots who made it possible!

Daniel Heiss escaped from Berrimah jail in 1995, sparking a 12-day manhunt around Darwin.

His girlfriend Carolyn Wilkinson has just published his biography – Blood On The Wire.

In the book she claims Heiss escaped by memorising the detail of the key after studying it hanging from a prison officer’s belt.

But the former prison officer who spoke to the NT News said authorities made the task much easier for Heiss.

“When I read that I thought ‘What a load of bullshit’, – it was much, much easier than that,” he said.

“The prisoners’ information handbook had a pair of crossed keys on the front of it.

“Those keys were a dead-set copy of the keys that we had. The key he copied was in the shape of a figure E, which was the master key.”

The officer said it was Heiss’s fellow inmate – fellow murderer Shane Baker – who made the key. He said Baker was a jeweller who had jewellery-making equipment in his cell, and used this to work on the key.

“Heiss was in a cell where he could reach his arm through the window and reach the lock,” the prison officer said. “(Baker) was in a cell where he couldn’t reach the lock.

“He used to give the key to Heiss and he would put it in the lock, then give it back and say ‘I think it needs a bit more off here or there’.”

Baker eventually designed a key that fitted the lock. Heiss let himself out of his cell before opening Baker’s cell door. They got out of the complex by scaling three razor-wire perimeter fences.

Baker was recaptured within a few days but Heiss was on the run for 12 days.

There’s more at the link.

During my days as a prison chaplain, I can remember the extreme care we took to make sure that no inmate ever got an unobstructed look at one of the security keys for critical doors.  They were all fitted with swinging metal shields that blocked their “business ends” from view.  The shield had to be swung out of the way to use the key, then replaced before we hung it from our belt once more.  You can bet we’d never have put an image of even a similar key (let alone one that fit any of our doors) on inmate literature!



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